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American Kestrel

American Oystercatcher
American Goldfinch

About the American Kestrel

Also known as: Sparrow Hawk

The American Kestrel, formerly known as the Sparrow Hawk, is the smallest falcon in North America - about the size of an American Robin.

American Kestrels are widely distributed across the Americas. Their breeding range extends from central and western Alaska across northern Canada to Nova Scotia, and south throughout North America, into central Mexico, the Baja, and the Caribbean. They are local breeders in Central America and are widely distributed throughout South America.

Most of the birds breeding in Canada and the northern United States migrate south in the winter, although some males stay as year-round residents. It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 16 March 2007
Scientific Name Falco sparverius
  • Falconiformes
  • Falconidae
  • Falco
  • F. sparverius
Birdorable Family Birds of Prey
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 29 September 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
9 to 11 inches
21 to 24 inches
4.2 ounces
Range North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West) United States (East)

International Names

  • Quiriquiri (Brazilian)
  • 美洲隼 (Chinese)
  • Poštolka Pestrá (Czech)
  • Amerikansk Tårnfalk (Danish)
  • Amerikaanse Torenvalk (Dutch)
  • Amerikantuulihaukka (Finnish)
  • Crécerelle d'Amérique (French)
  • Buntfalke (German)
  • Gheppio Americano (Italian)
  • アメリカチョウゲンボウ (Amerikachougembou) (Japanese)
  • Spurvefalk (Norwegian)
  • Pustulka Amerykanska (Polish)
  • Пустельга (Russian)
  • Cernícalo Americano (Spanish)
  • Sparvfalk (Swedish)

Related articles & downloads

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If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the American Kestrel. American Kestrels ... more
North America's Smallest Falcon

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The American Kestrel is the smallest species of falcon in North America. The plumage of male and female American Kestrels differs significantly, which is unusual among birds of prey. Kestrels like to ... more