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Injured American Kestrel

Published June 13, 2013
Tags: General Observations, American Kestrel, Hawk Creek Wildlife Center

Yesterday, while I was birding at the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, my daughter messaged me that she and her husband had just rescued a young male American Kestrel from a cat. The bird's wing was extended and it couldn't fly.  We both thought of Hawk Creek Wildlife Center right away as they're known across the nation as one of the leading places for injured bird rehab.

Kate and her 2 young kiddos came out to our house with the kestrel and I drove the kestrel to out to Hawk Creek.  Even though I know the American Kestrel is our smallest falcon, I was still surprised at just how small he was.  Every time I've seen one in a tree or up on a phone line, they appeared much bigger.  This little fellow must be fairly young...

The only thing we could figure out how he was caught by the cat is that the kestrel was a recent fledgling and a novice at flying - maybe leaving its nest too soon, maybe walking around too long on the ground... My daughter didn't see how the cat had gotten to it - but when she and her husband, Lenny, startled the cat which caused the cat to let go of the bird, the kestrel began beating the cat with its wings!  Fiesty! That gave us good hope that he wasn't injured too badly.

I just got off the phone with Hawk Creek (Thursday morning) and they are very optimistic for the kestrel's survival!  He was standing up on his own, hopping around, and holding his wing normally.  He has received antibiotics due to it being a cat injury because cat injuries often cause infections.  Once the danger of infection is passed, they will do a more thorough check to see if his wing was, in fact, broken.

This is another bird whose populations are declining in some areas so I really hope he makes it.  You can find out how you can help American Kestrels by going to this website » American Kestrel Partnership.

And it's just horrible how many roaming cats (feral, stray, AND housecats with outdoor access) kill in a year. The American Bird Conservency estimates between 500 MILLION to 1 BILLION are killed per year or up to 14% of their total populations. A more recent study published by the Smithsonian estimates between 1.4 to 3.7 BILLION birds are killed per year!  Horrible! Here are a couple of online articles if you want to learn more:

On a more positive note, there is a live web cam in a kestrel's nest box at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You can view it here » Kestrel Webcam.  At the time of this writing, there are very young, little nestlings in the nestbox!  Note the white splashed on the inside nestbox walls. That is feces that the young ones squirt onto the walls where it dries and stays off the nestlings. The parents are spared the task of having to remove fecal sacks that other species need to do!
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The rescuer: my daughter, Kate
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The patient: a young male American Kestrel
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Taken right after his injury with my daughter's cell phone. Note the extended wing.
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Right after he was rescued, taken with my daughter's cell phone.