American Kestrel—Missouri’s Tiny Falcon

March 21, 2013

A few weeks ago, I photographed my first American kestrel. It was on the same day I took a walk-about in Forest Park with my friend Deepa and she was at least partially responsible for my good fortune. I had already stowed my camera gear in my truck by the time Deepa showed up and our plan was to take a circuit around the wetland areas and locate a wood duck nest that she had spotted a few days earlier. Not too long after we started our trek, we saw a kestrel swoop down and grab a grub or worm from a freshly disturbed patch of ground along the trail. As we walked toward the location, the beautiful male flew up and landed on a branch. It didn’t appear too nervous so Deepa suggested that I run to my truck and get my camera. I looked at her and said, “By the time I run around the two bogs, across the creek, across the road and into the Muny parking lot, that kestrel will be long gone!” Deepa didn’t agree, so off I went on a photographer’s version of a wild goose chase. In her defense, she promised to call me on the cell phone if the kestrel flew the coop while I was gone.

By the time I made it to my truck, I was huffing and puffing pretty good because my heart was already racing at the prospect of my first decent kestrel image. I grabbed the tripod, lens and camera body and assembled the rig as quickly as possible. At that time I took a look across the park and could see Deepa staring upward. I hadn’t received a call so I knew there was still a chance. I ran back across the road, creek and around the two bogs and found Deepa and the kestrel waiting for me, right where I left them! Deepa’s stubborn optimism was my good fortune because I never would have went back for my gear if I’d been alone.

DJB_FP_2013_0243Click on image to enlarge; back to return

I spent the next ten minutes photographing the colorful kestrel, polka dots and all, and we both enjoyed watching the different head turns and facial expressions it gave us. It was rather late in the morning for good wildlife photography but the light and sky were very kind. I was also pleased to see that the kestrel landed on a lazy-T shaped perch that added a little interest to the photo.

After a while we left the miniature falcon to its grubs and other terrestrial tidbits and headed over to Deepa’s daughter and son-in-law’s place, where she is staying during her St. Louis visit. I enjoyed meeting the rest of her family, especially her little granddaughter who showed me some of her favorite toys, including her new piggy who makes cool grunting sounds while taking its bottle. Deepa served up some Indian food, bursting with flavors so exotic that my taste buds cried out, “Hey dude—give us some warning next time!” All in all, quite an enjoyable day.

Thanks for looking,

DB

American Kestrel—Feature:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/1600 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II Gimbal; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

American Kestrel—Bonus:  Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L IS Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/1600 @ f/5.6; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod with Wimberley II Gimbal; Converted and Processed in Canon DPP

8 comments on “American Kestrel—Missouri’s Tiny Falcon”

  1. Only you could give ME credit for your photography 🙂 I just happened to be with you at the right time, that’s all! But it was so nice to see your satisfaction at having “nailed” the Kestrel, even though you wanted to go back the next day for better shots! Well, the ones you have are wonderful enough for me….thank you!

  2. Hi Danny, what a beautiful shot of that American Kestrel. I have never seen one before. Thank’s for sharing. I also enjoyed the story, leading up to the event. I have been studying the hawk, that has been dining in my back yard every night, and back in the morning for preening. I believe it to be a Merlin, based on its markings, slate blue on its back, and cinnamon streaks underneath. It also flies in an erratic course, low to the ground. I was walking down my driveway last evening, around dusk, when this hawk flew right near me waist high, almost clipped my leg, in a erratic flight pattern. Its wing spans was not very wide. It landed in my neighbors pine tree. I had the opportunity to get a good look this morning. while he perched on the limb near my deck, preening himself. It’s got me puzzled.

    Art

    • Hi Art — I can’t wait to see your hawk and get a definite ID. If it is slate blue on its back or gray it might be a Cooper’s hawk, my favorite hawk. I’ll try to stop by on the way to work in the morning, around 6:30 a.m. and take a look. Thanks!

  3. Great shots, Dannny, and wonderful story with it, as usual. Also enjoyed the changes to your website, particularly the slide show, which, if not new, I don’t think I’d seen before. What a great assortment of photos!

    • Thanks Dan! I’m glad you liked the website as well. I’ve tried to make it easier for people wanting to purchase images in print or for magazines.

  4. Gorgeous. I felt the excitement you described.

    • Thanks a bunch, Lyle. Also, I hope the blog looks better now as I turned off the ads that WP was sneaking in.


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