American Kestrels are the smallest and most abundant falcon in the United States. Male Kestrels are brightly colored; they have a rusty chest and slate blue wings with heavy black streaking. Females lack the slate blue color and are almost entirely rust colored. The heavy black stripes (malar stripes) on the side of their face can be seen from a distance. Kestrels hunt for small rodents, birds, and insects from a perch or by hovering in the air over open fields.
The ODC acquired this male as a juvenile in 2008. He was captured illegally as a young bird and kept as a pet in the Chicago area. Because he was tame and “imprinted” to humans, he is no longer able to survive in the wild. He does not have any physical injuries.
American Kestrels can fly 20-40 mph in level flight and up to 60 mph in a dive.
They typically nest in old woodpecker holes or hollow trees but also use nest boxes or old buildings; little or no nesting materials are added.
Merlins are small falcons that are found in grasslands and open woods where they can capture small birds and insects in midair. They have long, pointed wings and long, banded tails. Merlins are less distinctively marked than other falcons. They have dark brown or slate-colored backs and heavily streaked buff-colored chests. Females tend to be darker colored than males. Merlins hunt from the air where they mainly pursue other birds, they will occasionally catch insects or rodents.
Merlins can fly at speeds of 30-45 mph in level flight and faster when pursuing prey in horizontal flight using bursts of speed.
They typically nests in trees; using old nests of crows, hawks, or squirrels.
The ODC acquired this male Merlin in 2017. He was found near Lansing after likely colliding with a power line. The damage to his right wing was severe enough that it had to be amputated. With only one wing, he is now unable to fly.
Peregrine Falcons are stocky falcons that are designed to fly at extreme speeds while chasing prey. They have long pointed wings, a short tail, long slender talons and dark eyes. Peregrines are typically slate gray on the back and buff or bronze color on the belly with black barring. Peregrines primarily eat birds, especially waterfowl and pigeons. They hunt from very high perches or while soaring and dive to strike prey in the air, usually killing on impact.
The ODC acquired this male Peregrine Falcon as a juvenile in 2015. He was born in Detroit, Michigan. It has a left wing injury, it may have been attacked by another peregrine falcon while trying to establish its own territory. It can no longer fly well enough to hunt and survive in the wild.
They can fly 40-60 mph in level flight, up to 70 mph when pursuing prey and 200+ mph in a dive.
They nest in simple depressions in dirt or debris on a high ledge; suitable sites include cliffs and sky scrapers.