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.
Join the American Birding Association at www.aba.org!