A Kestrel Eats A Vole August 2021

Several days ago I was sitting on the side of a road and a male American Kestrel flew in with a recently killed vole. I had a front row seat as it carefully ate it. The steps are documented below. It’s amazing to watch things like this when you can slow down and take in a nature event. These things happen everyday right around us but we often have too much going on to stop and watch.

Flying in with the vole
Find a suitable perch from which to eat. Maybe it often uses the same branch?
Starting with the head
Takes a perfectly designed bill in order to grab on and tear.
Lots of red meat in the head
Eating the entire head, fur and all.
Pulling out the intestines and stomach which were not eaten. Owls will usually swallow voles whole, this Kestrel was a little more picky.
Carefully eating around the insides
The insides eventually just fell to the ground. You can see the full crop (throat) in this photo.
Intestines, stomach, etc… on full display.
Time to start on the hind quarters.
The tail going down. the entire process reminded me of how I clean fish in preparation for eating….
A quick bill clean by rubbing it on the branch away from where the guts were just dangling.
And that’s Monday! Full crop of food.


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