#ABArare - Eurasian Kestrel - Alaska
It was a rare three-falcon day on Adak Island on Sep 15. Several Peregrines and a pair of immature Gyrfalcons were seen on this island in the central Aleutians, but the star of the day was a Eurasian Kestrel (Code 4). It was first spotted by Barb Haas and then photographed by Frank Haas at the "Adak National Forest", one of the few small stands of introduced spruces on the island. Barb found it because she saw a bump on the frame that used to hold the sign that said "You are now entering and leaving the Adak National Forest" that she never noticed before as she and Frank drove on a nearby road, so she stopped to check it out.
Eurasian Kestrel is a common raptor across the entirety of the Eastern
Hemisphere, slightly larger than American Kestrel but very similar in
shape and behavior. It ranges widely, with eleven described subspecies.
Any bird in Alaska, however, is most likely to be the nominate
subspecies, which breeds expansively across the temperate part of Europe
all the way east to the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia.
Gibson and Byrd (2007) report nine sightings of Eurasian Kestrel from the western Aleutians. It is listed as hypothetical on the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Adak checklist, but this is the first documented record from the island and the central Aleutians. Outside of Alaska the species is far more infrequent with records from Massachusetts (1887, 2002), British Columbia (1946), New Jersey (1972), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (the same bird, 1988), Washington (1999), Florida (2003), and California (2007), as well as sightings in Bermuda, French Guiana, Martinique, and Trinidad (Pranty et al. 2008).
Gibson, D.D. and G. V. Byrd. 2007. Birds of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Series in Ornithology 1. Nutall Ornithological Club and The American Ornithologists' Union, Cambridge, MA and Washington D.C.
Pranty, B., J.L. Dunn, S.C. Heinl, A.W. Kratter, P.E. Lehman, M.W. Lockwood, B.W. Mactavish, and K.J. Zimmer. 2008. ABA Checklist: Birds of the Continental United States and Canada, 7th edition. American Birding Association, Colorado Springs.
Nathan Swick contributed to this post.