The smallest member of the falcon family, this handsome little American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) can be found throughout North America and much of South America (Arkive.org).Only about 9-12″ in length, the elegant but fierce little bird of prey feeds mostly on insects, small rodents and amphibians, and small birds. Yet, due to its petite size, the American Kestrel itself sometimes falls prey to other larger birds, including hawks, crows, and owls (All About Birds).The Kestrel is one of the birds mentioned explicitly in the Torah as being non-kosher, beginning with these verses in Vayikra/Leviticus 11:13-14: ‘And among birds, you shall hold these in abomination; they shall not be eaten; they are an abomination: The eagle [or the griffin vulture], the kite, the osprey, the kestrel, and the vulture after its species . . .’ (Chabad.org). All non-kosher birds are predatory birds.
Speaking of Kestrels, you may recall hearing the story of a Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) that was captured in 2013 in a Turkish village and accused of being an Israeli spy! The bird had been tagged in Israel as part of a research project on migration, and the villagers, unfamiliar with the practice of banding birds, were suspicious about the metallic ring on its foot. Fortunately, as seen in this photo (Daily News, 7.26.13), the ‘kestrel captured in Turkey on suspicion of being an Israeli spy has been released after officials concluded it was not actually in the employ of Mossad.’ (IndependentNews.co.uk 7.26.13). The story made global headlines and one clever writer dubbed the Kestrel ‘The Bird Who Knew Too Little’ (International Business Times 7.27.13)!