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American Kestrels in South Florida

On Sunday (7/16) I found a pair of American Kestrels on Virginia Key and since this species is not supposed to be here in mid-July, these birds needed scrutiny. They appear to be the "Cuban" subspecies, residents of Cuba and the Bahamas. Several experienced Caribbean birders and two raptor experts agree.

Field marks for this subspecies: 1) little or no black markings on the breast and belly, making the bird look white underneath; 2) facial markings reduced, dark gray and less defined; 3) absence of black edging on blue shoulders of the male; 4) flight style with quick, stiff wing beats (Thanks, Larry!) The nape can be white or rufous.

In 2011 I photographed another bird from Virginia Key that has been identified as "Cuban" subspecies and last January, Rangel Diaz photographed a female in Crandon Park. Because females can vary so much, they are rarely critiqued as to subspecies but Rangel's bird is a slam-dunk. We might see more of these birds in the future, so heads-up.

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Comments

Kurt d.
6 months ago

On occaision, I see resident summer birds up in Okeechobee, Desoto, and Highlands county, always paired. They are the normal looking ones, nothing like those.

Larry Manfredi
6 months ago

Here is a link to a male and female from Great Inagua in the Bahamas.
http://www.southfloridabirding.com/images/tasphotos/DSC_6981_american_kestrel_cuban_race1.jpg

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