JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Have a chiseler problem? Field mice, voles, Richardson ground squirrels, Uinta chipmunks—whatever it is that’s tearing up your lawn and getting into the garden has to go. A .22 is messy. A cat is, well, a cat. What you need is a kestrel.
The American Kestrel is the smallest and most common member of the falcon family, but it packs a fierce predator intensity into its tiny body. And what a body. The American Kestrel is also one of the most colorful of raptors.
Kestrels can be found year-round throughout most of the US, but they leave Jackson Hole and fly south for the winter, according to our friends at the Teton Raptor Center. Some early returnees have already been spotted just south of town. Over the next few weeks many more will appear in the valley. Look for them balancing on power lines, hovering above open fields, and perching on fence posts.
The population is in decline but you can help. If you have an open field in your backyard with plenty of small rodents and insects, put up one of the Raptor Center’s nest boxes and you might attract a kestrel pair. You can buy one or you can build one—or just learn more about the cool kestrel.
TRC has a resident kestrel you can see for yourself. Frost came to the center after being injured in Texas when he got stuck to a frozen pipe during a storm. The subsequent frostbite led to the loss of the end of his left wing (a wrist amputation was performed) and damage to the talons on two of his toes. Frost can no longer fly, but he can still run, jump and exercise. Frost is TRC’s smallest avian ambassador.