Amazing in its completeness and enthralling in the telling, The American Kestrel offers a close-up look at our continent+s smallest raptor. Adaptive and resourceful, the kestrel often lives in city parks and is frequently seen along highways, so much so that it has been called (America+s roadside raptor.+ Contributing to its popularity is the kestrel+s wide distribution+from treeline in northern Alaska to the very tip of South America. This colorful falcon thrives today as it did in 1805 when Meriwether Lewis described it in his journal entry, written near the Little Missouri River. John James Audubon included his painting of the kestrel in his landmark folio, Birds of America.
In The American Kestrel, author Roland H. Wauer admits to having a (love affair+ with this handsome bird for most of his life. His deep affection for it is clear in this complete account of the life of the (Windhover,+ as it was once called (because it is the only falcon that can hunt by hovering). Many people today still know it by an even earlier name, (Sparrow Hawk.+ By whatever name it is called+(Killy Hawk,+ (House Hawk,+ or (Grasshopper Hawk++it is one of America+s most abundant and admired raptors.
The book begins with a complete description of the kestrel, including the fascinating eye spots on the back of the head, a trait unique among falcons. Wauer goes on to discuss the vocalizations of the kestrel+the (killy call,+ the (whine call,+ and the (chitter call++and how the bird uses them to communicate. Using scientific research and easily understood interpretations, Wauer covers many topics, such as the falcon+s keen eyesight; its amazing migration patterns; its eating habits; and its hunting styles. At the heart of the book is a complete natural history of Falco sparverius, including courtship routines, nesting, and the raising of young. The mixture of hard science and personal stories makes for compelling reading. The book ends with a discussion of the enemies and threats the American kestrel faces.
About the author:
William S. Clark is an author, photographer, and lecturer who travels worldwide leading birding tours. He is the author of several books on raptors, including A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors and A Field Guide to the Hawks of North America in the Peterson Field Guide series.