Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rooftop Kestrel

The top of the Dwyer has turned out to be a bounty in terms of expanding my Urban Raptor knowledge. Able to observe the birds for long periods of time, I have been able to mark the ranges, hunting habits and numbers of mated raptor pairs. My one regret is that while seeing the big picture well, the close-up one has been largely absent save for the view from my spotting scope. Instead, I have been treated to the occasional close passes by the hawks, falcons, crows and song birds as they cruised past towards the southern Parks. Today at noon however this pattern was interrupted. I heard the distinct killy, killy, killy of a pair of kestrels somewhere nearby. By the time I got them in site, the male had flown off south, while the female remained.

She flew down to a vent pipe (a common ambush perch). Kestrels also use the heat to stay warm--a necessary trait for quick reflexes).

Bracing against the vicious wind, I took my eye off her for a second...and she was gone. I picked my head up off the camera just in time to see her arc in just over my head and round the corner! As I wheeled around, there! She had landed on the corner of my building.

Mmm...not the best light on her, so I carefully made my way across to the bird! She allowed me to get quite close.

Framed against the St. Nicholas Houses.
One of the most fascinating things I observed was how this tiny bird manages in the brutal gale. A particularly strong draft hit her, and she adopted this pose!

Notice how she uses her left wing to deflect the wind upward, thereby creating downpressure on her feet. Notice how she's digging in with her talons! This is a bird that weighs about 1 oz., resisting a 40mph wind! She then turned to face the northern courtyard...

and used the same wind to propel her at a flight of sparrows!

Look at the gore on her talons!


Donegal Browne said...


Gorgeous shot of the female Kestrel as she first positions herself to resist the wind!

She really is a little beauty.


Anonymous said...

Awesome shots and description b. It almost looks as if some of those kibbles n bits under her talon might be some suctioning skin ...just a thought ...I'll look into that ...just looks like a little more then left-overs no? Maybe it's just me. What do you think.