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Today I’m featuring an image of a male American Kestrel. I photographed this little falcon a couple of weeks ago as he was sitting on a shrub in Sonoita’s grasslands.
I’m especially fond of this image because it graphically shows this falcon’s distinctive plumage. In some falcon species (Peregrines and Prairie Falcons), plumage may vary somewhat from individual to individual and there are also regional plumage differences. However, there aren’t gender-based plumage differences. For example, male and female Peregrine Falcons display pretty much identical plumage.
It’s different with kestrels. With this species, males and females have gender-specific plumage. The female that I featured the other day has russet-colored outer wings and a pale breast with russet streaks. The male, depicted here, has a russet-colored breast with dark spots and bright blue outer wings. Females have dark lateral stripes or bars on their backs whereas males have spots.
When I see a kestrel out in the field I can almost immediately identify its gender. Usually, the first thing that catches my eye is the bird’s breast and back markings. Streaks equal females, spots equal males.
Image made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 400, f5.6 @ 1/2000, +1 stop exposure compensation.