American Kestrels are pretty common in the U.S., and here in Florida, we get to enjoy them in significant numbers throughout the winter months, but beginning in March or April, most of our Kestrels leave us. But there are some that stay with us all year round. The southeastern subspecies of American Kestrel mostly found in Florida and a few of its neighboring states. It’s smaller, and it generally has fewer spots on its belly and flanks. But since there’s significant amount of variation in spotting, it is generally not reliable to identify subspecies in Florida during the months when both of them are present.
I found a couple Kestrels copulating at an electrical substation near my home in December last year. The male had a very plain belly, which is a good sign. I’ve seen this couple a few times since then, but now it’s May and all our “northern” Kestrels are gone. So today when I found four of them here I was pretty excited. A juvenile was begging, and eventually succeeded in getting dad to feed him a lizard he’d caught. And a little ways away a mother fed another juvenile.
So now I can be reasonably confident, I think, that the pair I’d seen earlier were the southeastern subspecies. And that’s pretty great, because it means that some of my favorite Kestrel photos I took here in January are of our resident subspecies. This subspecies is threatened in Florida, so it’s very nice to see them breeding successfully so close to my home.