Bird of the Day: American Kestrels at the Merced and San Luis National Wildlife Refuges.
Superbowl Sunday turned out to be a great day for seeing raptors and other hunters at the local bird refuges. I got a few shots of some American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) at two different locales, the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (above), and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (below). The bird, which has been called a sparrow hawk, is actually a falcon, the smallest of the American species.
The kestrels have been struggling, with only about half the population they had in the 1960s. Most of the decline comes from habitat loss, including the clearing of fields with tree snags that they prefer for nesting.