More than any other raptor, the American Kestrel is most likely to live its entire life in a completely man-made world. From hunting atop antenna, to nesting in cornices, to flighting on rooftops, American Kestrels have a complex relationship to our architectural world.
In addition to these environmental hurdles, one of their most difficult tasks is learning to hunt while at the same time being hunted. I had 3 of the 119th St. kestrels together on a roof,
when suddenly a parent let out an alarm. A juvy peregrine had focused in on them and made a stoop at the group. They then scattered to a tree in Morningside Park.
Fear of predators is instinctive, but learning how they are vulnerable to attack is something that not even the most gifted rehabber can teach these bird. Out west, entire broods are killed off by hawks and other falcons. Survival tactics such as these learned on rooftops and nearby Parks provide them with the skills to make it in this very challenging environment. For them the first flight is the hardest as there are few good perches directly out of the nest. However, provided they are in good health, all they need is to be is safely put back into their environment, ie rooftops, in order to be given the best chance of survival.
Today was a very special day in that I got to see this dynamic play out before my very eyes. One 135th St., the kestrels also have 3 chicks. Here baby male begs to the adult male to be fed. The male does not comply and flies off.
A juvy female was attracted to the calls and flew in behind them.
After sometime, I watched her stoop from the rooftop and kill a juvenile sparrow...her first kill! Now her sister and brother begged from her, but she absconded to a further roof. It took some searching, but I was able to see her finish off her first meal.
Welcome to a Brave New World little birdy!