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#ABArare – Eurasian Kestrel – California

On the afternoon of Friday, January 6, Casey Ryan and Tony Kurz discovered a female Eurasian Kestrel (ABA Code 4) near Eureka, Humboldt County, California. This is a potential 2nd record for California.

Photo: Sean McAllister/Macaulay Library (S33493278)

The bird was found on the north side of Humboldt Bay NWR, at the end of Depot Street int he town of Fields Landing, south of Eureka. It has been reported to be flying around the west side of a large blue building near the dry dock. The closest major city and airport is San Francisco/Oakland, about 4.5 hours to the south.

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 western part of North America, 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.

Most ABA Area records of the species come from Alaska, almost all of which are from the western 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 a previous one from California (2007), as well as sightings in Bermuda, French Guiana, Martinique, and Trinidad.

Humboldt County has been pretty hot of late. This find was only a few miles south of the state park where the Common Pochard (ABA Code 4) has lingered into the new year. There has also been Great Gray Owl and Tufted Duck (ABA Code 3) in the county of late.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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  • Zachary Loman

    Humboldt has a commercial airport, Arcata-Eureka, ACV. It would save a lot of driving as opposed to flying into the Bay Area for anyone chasing from out of state.

  • LizabethS

    There is a much more recent eastern North American record for Eurasian Kestrel not included in the blog list. It is of an individual initially photographed in November 2014 at Hartlen Point, near Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was not conclusively ID’d until the following month, at which point the news reached the rare bird alerts. It stayed around for several months delighting many local (and not so local) birders but was eventually predated by a Rough-legged Hawk in March of 2015.

    • Ah, you’re right. I forgot about that one.

  • rlkittiwake

    It hasn’t been seen since the day it was found.

    Also, California’s being hit with a massive storm and mudslides are undoubtedly going to close most of the roads in and out. 299 is closed indefinitely and 36 has chain controls. The 101 closes due to slides every year and they were running snowplows up and down the road yesterday to clear small slides.

    Flying is the best option.

  • Alix Arthur d’Entremont

    Here are some photos of the 2014/2015 bird in Nova Scotia.

    http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S21074239

  • LizabethS

    Great photos Alix!

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