In my last post I showed photos of a female Kestrel, and then discussed some of the identifying characteristics that we could see. Today, I will be showing my photographs of male Kestrels, and describing some of the ways in which they differ from the female.
When a kestrel is in flight, it is not uncommon to see it from underneath, so we will start with some of the more obvious differences that can be see there. First is the tail. The female has a series of even stripes of alternating red and black. The male however has an almost entirely red tail, with only a single, wide, black band, at the very end, followed by a thiner, white terminal band. The outer two tail feathers (which will be a little harder to notice, are alternating black and white for their entire length.
Other differences you will notice are on the chest. The male will have either a clean, unmarked chest (often a cream color), or he will have scattered black dots. The female will have a streaked chest (the streaks running from a head to tail orientation). The males underwings are an even patterning of black and white, the females are reddish brown and tan.
Male and female Kestrels are also different from the topside. While the female is always a little larger than the male, the greatest differences you will be able to notice are in coloration. You can see a little in this photograph of the two birds next to each other. The wings for example. The female’s wings are red and black. The male’s are have a bluish color and are mostly black at the tips, with some white. The center of the male’s back is a brighter red than the females, and has only a little black mixed in. (A female’s back isn’t so brightly colored, and is much more mottled between the black and red.)
Again, you can also notice the coloration of the tail of the tail from the backside, and not just from underneath. Back, wings, and tail will generally be your easiest field marks. Learn them, and you will have an easier time telling the male from the female. I’ve included more of my photographs in the slideshow at the top. Look at them, and see what differences and traits you can notice.
Your images of the Kestrals in flight are beautiful. Do you have any helpful tips on shooting birds in flight?
I so enjoyed your slideshow!!! Fabulous images! Your inflight images are awesome!
Amazing photographs! Watched a kestrel swoop down and take a sparrow at my feet one day at the old bakery in Bolinas. It shocked the socks off a couple of city folks who were sitting near by. They had never seen such a thing. The kestrels loved those fat, slow sparrows.
I love these action-filled photos of the magnificent Kestrel! Thank you!
Thanks Maggie. Took a lot of different days to get them all. They are such a fun little raptor though, that it is well worth it.
I love your work Galen and although I haven’t spent much time here yet, the Kestrels knock me out!
Thank you for sharing
Kestrels are some of my favorite falcons, so they are a joy to photograph, and even more fun to share. Happy you’re enjoying them Mark.