This article titled “4 Falcons in Kansas (with Pictures)” provides an exciting exploration of the four species of falcons found in Kansas. From the mighty Peregrine Falcon, known for being the fastest animal on the planet, to the agile American Kestrel, North America’s smallest falcon, readers will discover the unique characteristics and behaviors of each species. With captivating descriptions and stunning pictures, this article offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of these incredible birds of prey in the heartland of America.
4 Falcons in Kansas
Kansas is home to a diverse range of bird species, including several majestic falcons. These birds belong to the genus Falco and are known for their incredible speed and hunting prowess. In this article, we will explore the four species of falcons that can be found in Kansas: the American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and Prairie Falcon.
Scientific name: Falco tinnunculus
The American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon, measuring between 8.7 and 12.2 inches in length. Despite its small size, this falcon is a fierce predator that can take down other birds bigger than itself. It primarily feeds on insects and invertebrates such as grasshoppers, beetles, and moths, but it also preys on small rodents, bats, lizards, and frogs.
The American Kestrel has a unique appearance with a small head and rusty brown and bluish gray coloring. Both males and females have black barring on their back and two black stripes on their face. Females are mostly rusty colored, while males have bluish-gray on their head and wings. To observe the American Kestrel, look for them perched on fence posts and telephone wires, especially around farmland. They are most active in the summer.
Scientific name: Falco columbarius
The Merlin is another small falcon species found in Kansas. It measures between 9.4 and 11.8 inches in length and weighs between 5.6 and 8.5 ounces. Merlins are migratory birds, and they can be seen in Kansas during the spring and fall migration seasons. Their primary food source is other birds, and they are known for their high-speed attacks.
Merlins have a stocky body with a squarish head and a heavily streaked chest and belly. Their coloring can vary from gray to brown depending on their geographic location. In flight, they have heavy barring on the underside of their wings. Merlins can be challenging to spot as they are constantly on the move, stalking sparrows and other small birds. Look for them near forest edges and perched on low branches in open grasslands.
Scientific name: Falco peregrinus
Peregrine Falcons are mainly seen in Kansas during the spring and fall migration seasons. They are known for their long-distance migrations, with some birds traveling as far as arctic regions of Canada and Greenland to breed. These falcons are wanderers, found on almost every continent worldwide.
Males and females of the Peregrine Falcon look identical. They have a dark back and head, with a light chest and streaked underparts. Their legs, eye area, and the base of their beak have a bright yellow coloring. Peregrines are not only the fastest bird but also the fastest animals on the planet, reaching speeds of well over 200 mph during their hunting dives. They mainly prey on birds of various species but also consume bats and rodents. Peregrine Falcons nest on cliff faces and sometimes use abandoned nests of eagles, owls, or red-tailed hawks.
Scientific name: Falco mexicanus
The Prairie Falcon is a bird of the wide-open spaces, preferring grasslands and fields where it can soar high overhead in search of its next meal. These falcons can be found throughout the western half of the United States year-round, and during the winter months, some individuals move slightly east to the middle of the country.
Prairie Falcons have a diet that primarily consists of small mammals and other birds. During the summer, they feed on small mammals such as squirrels, while in the winter, they shift their diet to medium-sized birds like horned larks and western meadowlarks. Prairie Falcons have brown coloring with light-colored underparts barred with brown. In flight, you can spot a dark spot in the “armpit” of their wings. They often take dust baths due to the scarcity of water in their preferred grassland or tundra habitats.
To observe Prairie Falcons, look for them soaring low over open land. They may be difficult to spot at times due to their camouflaged appearance, but their brown “mustache” and white eyebrow stripe can help in identification. These falcons do not build nests but instead look for natural crevices and depressions in cliffs or areas with protective overhangs. They are territorial birds and will defend their breeding areas against intruding Peregrine Falcons.
Kansas is a haven for falcons, with four unique species calling the state home. The American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and Prairie Falcon each possess distinct characteristics and behaviors that make them fascinating to observe. Whether perched on a fence post or soaring high overhead, these falcons contribute to the vibrant and diverse bird population in Kansas.
- “4 Falcons in Kansas (with Pictures)” – Bird Feeder Hub