Birds of prey are one of the most fascinating birds to study, and among them, the tiny but powerful American kestrel certainly has a star spot.
Smallest of the falcons in North America, they only weigh about as much as a bluejay or a mourning dove.
Yet they are equipped with some of the most energy-efficient hunting techniques that, coupled with their wide variety of diets, is also the reason behind their wide success as a species.
They also appear quite different from their cousins, and it was only through DNA matching that scientists were able to put them in the falcon category.
So there is certainly a lot to learn about the world of American kestrels. But more than that, there is, even more, to learn about the babies of these already tiny birds!
What do they look and sound like? What do they eat? When do they mature? What are the stages of their development?
And on and on the questions go.
So without further ado, let us take a look at everything you need to know about American kestrel baby and juveniles.
What Do American Kestrel Babies Look Like?
The American kestrel babies look nothing like the majestic little birds having beautifully intricate plumage that they grow up to be.
The main fun fact you might not have known is that as in many baby falcons, the babies arrive blind, with their eyes closed, with no idea how their parents or siblings look.
It is a question of complete faith and trust, as they depend entirely upon their parents to provide them with food and training for their proper development.
They are also altricial birds meaning that they develop their natal down feathers within a few days of hatching.
Their natal feathers are a combination of white, light brown, and gray-streaked and mottled onto white fluffy plumage.
They don’t yet have feathers on their wings, these feathers will only arrive once the natal feathers go through their stage of development and pass on in exchange for their flying feathers.
American Kestrel Baby Size And Weight
With the adults-only weighing in at about 2.8 – 5 ounces, you can imagine how much tinier the babies might be!
American kestrel babies weigh a meager 1.5 ounces at the maximum. They also come up to a length of only 3 – 4 inches in length.
They are born as blind helpless little creatures that depend almost entirely upon their parents for food and protection.
As their primary layer of protection, they have a special natal down, that keeps them camouflaged as well as protected in the harsher weather conditions.
What Does A Juvenile American Kestrel Look Like?
American Kestrels are sexually dimorphic and they are one of the few birds where this becomes apparent in the juvenile phase itself.
As the baby American Kestrels grow to be juveniles, the males develop slate-blue coloring in their wings with a rusty reddish back while female kestrels, who will also be larger, sport a reddish-brown color overall.
In about a period of 4-6 weeks, the American kestrels develop from blind awkward little bobbleheads to the sleek beauty that resembles their adult stage more.
Amongst a group of juveniles, you can see with the close observation that the younger ones will have more fluffy feathering left to be replaced by more barred, and firm feathering.
What Do American Kestrel Babies Sound Like?
The adult American kestrels have a variety of vocalizations, with specified purposes behind each one.
Baby American kestrels can make the same adult calling at about 16 days old, though it is a much more shrill and high-pitched call. Generally, females have a lower pitch than males.
They have three basic vocalizations – the Klee, the whine, and the chitter. The klee comes in series format – klee klee klee – and is usually used when the bird is excited or otherwise agitated.
The whine is most commonly associated with feeding but is also used during copulation. And finally, the chitter is usually used during activities involving both the male and female birds.
What Is An American Kestrel Baby Called?
An American kestrel baby, especially one that is reared for falconry, is referred to as eyas, which can also be spelled eyass.
This term is not specific to the American kestrel family only and can be seen not only in the entire falcon family but also with other birds of prey.
They are also simply referred to as American kestrel chicks and based on the stage of development, they can be called nestling and fledgling.
What Do American Kestrel Babies Eat?
Baby American kestrels, like the babies of many other birds of prey, primarily eat the same things that their parents, do but are cut up into smaller more manageable pieces if it is a bigger meal.
The diet of an American kestrel is vast and varied and consists mainly of bugs and insects like crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and lizards and can go up to small animals like mice, frogs, and even smaller birds!
The father American kestrel is the one usually responsible for going out and foraging the food while the mother is busy keeping the babies safe.
How Many Babies Do American Kestrels Have?
Female American Kestrels lay about 3 – 7 eggs (usual clutches of 4 – 5 are seen) that are laid within a period of approximately 1 – 3 days.
The eggs are white to faint cream in color with brown or gray splotching on them.
The incubation lasts about 27 – 30 days and is primarily the responsibility of the female, though the male does contribute about 20 percent of it.
When Do American Kestrel Babies Start Flying?
Hatchlings, as we have seen above, are born with a fluffy natal down that keeps them protected.
At about 28 – 31 days, these down feathers are replaced by their properly developed wings, giving them the ability to leave the nest.
At about the period between 4 – 6 weeks, the baby kestrels make their first attempt at flight and must reach an altitude of about 10 – 30 feet before they come back to the ground.
Scientists believe that flying is an embedded natural instinct within babies of birds of prey, and the little fellow also receives plenty of guidance from their parents.
That was a complete rundown on this tiny little bird of prey, and it’s tinier still babies! American kestrels are one of the most stunning birds to look at, and we humans could certainly learn a thing or two about hunting from them.
We hope you enjoyed this venture into their curious little world, and that you learned something new today!
Thank you for reading!
Related Articles You May Like