Sunday, August 3, 2008

Adopt a Bird Spotlight: Flash (American Kestrel)

Flash's Story

Species: American Kestrel
Hatched: Spring 2007

Flash was a wild hatched bird who was received at WBS's rehab facility, along with a large number of other young kestrels, following a severe storm that damaged many trees in the St. Louis area. The rest of this group were returned to the wild once they were old and healthy enough to survive on their own. It had been noted that, unlike the other young birds, Flash did not exhibit a wild bird's normal fear of humans, which meant that he would have a reduced chance of survival in the wild.

It was decided that Flash would make a good addition to our Office of Wildlife Learning department where he was kept under observation for several days before being introduced into the general population of education birds. During this period our ever alert staff noted that he did not have a normal food drive and was not maintaining his weight as expected. Our vet was immediately consulted, and after much research it was found that he was suffering from a highly contagious yeast infection carried by the pigeons his parents fed to him as a nestling. The majority of birds who contract this disease usually die within 7-10 days if untreated. Because of the quick action of our fine vet and the vigilance of our dedicated staff, Flash is now healthy and already educating visitors about his species.

To adopt Flash, simply click our donation button, make a donation of $50, and specify in your payment notes: Adopt-a-bird: FLASH. Also include your name, phone number, and mailing address so that we can send you your adoption materials!

Every donation helps to feed, house, and provide medical care for the bird of your choice! Adopt-A-Bird Parents Receive:

  • *A personal visit with the bird you adopt!!!!! Call 636-861-3225 to set up a time for
  • your personal visit.
  • * Certificate of Adoption
  • * Color photo of the bird you've adopted
  • * Sponsorship Card
  • * One year's subscription to Mews News (our quarterly newsletter)
  • * Life History and Natural History of the bird
  • * 10% Discount off WBS merchandise
  • * Invitation to Sponsors-only events like Camera Day
  • * Discounts on WBS Special Events
  • * WBS Decal

Natural History

American kestrel
Falco sparverius

Description: small falcon; long tail; long, pointed wing tips; rust colored crown, back and tail; double black stripes on white face resembling a mustache; hooked bill; in flight they have pale underwings

Sex: male has blue-gray wings, a buff breast and white underparts with dark spots; in flight he has a row of circular white spots on the trailing wing edge; female lacks the blue-grey feathers that denote the male; her back and wings are roufous with pronounced barring

Age: juveniles are similar to adults but with a heavily streaked breast and completely barred back

Length: 9-12”

Wingspan: 1.8-1.9’

Weight: 0.2-0.3 lbs. (3-5 oz.)

Habitat: open country, deserts, urban areas, farms, wood edges

Status: most common falcon in America

Range: North and South America, West Indies, Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile

Behavior: monogamous; don’t build nests; lay 3-7 buffy-pink to grayish-white eggs marked with brown in tree cavities, building crevices or old magpie nests; incubation lasts 29-31 days, generally by the female; chicks hatch semi-altricial and leave the nest after a month; 1 brood per year except in the south and when food is abundant; hunts by hovering over the ground with rapid wing beats or sitting on a tree or telephone wire and plunging after it’s prey; frequently bobs it’s tail while perched on telephone wires; use nestboxes often

Diet: mice, insects and small birds, reptiles, small mammals

Vocalization: shrill “killy killy killy” or “klee, klee, klee”

√ The American kestrel was formerly known as the “sparrow hawk”

√ Kestrels can frequently be seen “hovering” over the grassy areas of highway cloverleafs where they find an abundance of insects and rodents. A good example of how they have adapted their hunting skills to urban living

Adopt A Bird spotlights are written and photographed by Gay Schroer.

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