Male American Kestrel On Agave

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A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were driving through rural country near Patagonia on what turned out to be the coldest day of the winter thus far.  Patagonia is about 60 miles or so southeast of Tucson and the area is at a significantly higher elevation than is Tucson and its environs.  We were driving over terrain that was, perhaps, 4000 feet above sea level.  It had snowed there the previous day and, although most of the snow had evaporated, the temperature was still well down into the 30s.

We spotted a male American Kestrel perched on the flower stalk of a dead agave.  The little falcon was clearly chilled and was attempting to get warm by sitting in direct sunlight with its feathers puffed out.


Birds have the capacity to raise their feathers and many do so as a way of keeping warm.  The erect feathers trap warm air against the birds’ bodies precisely the way a down jacket would protect us against the cold.  So, this little kestrel had puffed himself up and sat on the agave, looking positively obese_38a8560-copy-copy

After a minute or so the falcon shifted his position on the agave, hopping from one branch to an adjacent branch.  Kestrels are very high strung and they do not tolerate human interference in their domains, even when the human interloper is standing 25 or more yards away, as I was doing.  The kestrel watched me for a moment and then, clearly annoyed, flew off.

I could have cropped these images more in order to provide a closer view of the kestrel, but I like them just as they are.  There’s something very pretty about the juxtaposition of the falcon with the agave.  In coming days I’ll post some closer views of kestrels, including some that illustrate the plumage differences between males and females of this species.

Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f8 @ 1/3200.

One response to “Male American Kestrel On Agave”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    Beautiful composition, Steve. Great shot.

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