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Tiny raptor: Southeastern American Kestrel

A raptor, the Southeastern American Kestrel is the smallest of the falcons. Colorful males flaunt plumage of blue-grey wings, russet accents on the back and with black spots and white undersides with black barring. The female, slightly larger than the male, displays muted shades of brown with noticeable barring on the back and tail; the underside is creamy to buff with heavy brown streaking. Both have white heads topped with blue-grey.

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Another distinguishing mark of the Kestrel is the pair of vertical bars on either side of the face, whereas others in the falcon species show one. Two black spots; one on each side of the nape, are widely accepted as "false eyes," and help to protect the bird from potential attackers.

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Southeastern American Kestrel (SEAK) are year-round residents on Florida’s Adventure Coast. Nesting season is from early March through May.

Kestrels nest primarily in large dead trees in cavities previously hollowed out by woodpeckers; they also readily use nest boxes. Learn how you can provide nest boxes in open areas, along trails, on golf courses, and areas of acreage. 

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Local programs to teach the public about the SEAK and how to help protect and monitor the birds are presented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The SEAK has undergone a marked population decline and a decrease in its range in recent decades. It is listed as threatened in the state of Florida. Average life expectancy of a Kestrel is about 15 months.

Find out more about how you can help monitor the birds and provide habitat