A Pair of American Kestrels

There is a pair of American kestrels that hunt in a field near my house. I always love to watch them — only slightly bigger than bluejays or crows — but they fly so differently than those other birds! The way they flap their wings, so quickly, and then hover, scanning all the earth below them:  they are so beautiful and full of life.

The male’s blue wings are always astonishing to see — to me — and almost seem to make the feathers on his back look pink as he dashes through mid-air on the wind that sweeps over the dry, faded grass. The female’s ordinary colors seem more suitable to a hawk on the wing, hunting, and she blends into the landscape so well. Sometimes when I am looking right at her, she becomes invisible. That happened yesterday when I was watching her. She reappeared when she darted toward the blue sky and the water, in the distance, to hang over the the vale between hills. But the male never disappears like that.  He’s always visible.

It’s striking to me how often they hunt separately and how they respond when they know I see them. These birds know when they are being watched. How quickly they move when they sense a bird-watcher nearby!


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