Plate 20: Sparrow Hawk (or American Kestrel)

Falco sparverius

Nests & Eggs: American Kestrel

The smallest falcon in North America that packs a lot of intensity in a little body.

This little falcon, about the size of a Robin, is also known as Kestrel. Calling him a Sparrow-hawk is misleading, for insects and spiders, along with a generous portion of mice, go to make up his daily fare. Grasshoppers seem to be a special delicacy. Like other birds, he feeds on whatever is available. In cities, this includes English Sparrows.

The smallest of the hawk family can be found along highways where he uses telephone poles, wires or dead trees, while scanning the fields and fence rows for prey. Dressed in colorful plumage with spotted breast, slate-blue wings, red-brown back and tail, with head showing 2 black lines and a dot, he easily is seen and readily identified. The female is slightly larger, shows more banding on the tail and lacks the blue wings, hers being browner.

These birds nest in holes in trees or around buildings and join the Kingbirds, Chimney Swifts and Martins in chasing other predators out of the neighborhood. Their rapid swallow-like flight makes them a mean contender in any aerial joust.

The Sparrow Hawk ranges as far north as Southern Canada and winters from the central states south into South America.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. I
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read The Hawk and Eagle Family story in The Children’s Book of Birds out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XX: Sparrow Hawk (American Kestrel), and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the American Kestrel at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • You’ll find a brief mention of “Killy the Sparrow Hawk” in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER VIII. Old Clothes and Old Houses.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

American Kestrel Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Sparrow Hawk
Bird picture for notebook.

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book
Dover Nature Coloring Book based on Fifty Birds of Town and City by Bob Hines. Includes the sparrow hawk.

American Kestrel Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

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