It's my theory that the best way to find kestrels is to stop looking for them. That's exactly what I did the other day when I encountered a kestrel pair on South Street, near the Brooklyn Bridge.
I had spent a good deal of time walking around in search of this particular pair, who frequent the east side of Bowery. Walking a couple of miles and coming up empty, I gave up and put my camera away.
That's when they landed in a tree directly in front of me.
The female is on top, the male is below her.
The female was camera-shy and launched into a marathon preening session that hid her face, so I focused on the male.
He let me get pretty close.
After a few minutes, Mr Kestrel flew to a nearby tree and appeared to be hunting.
He made good use of the light poles in the area, from which he had a clear view of a parking lot teeming with sparrows.
Meanwhile, Ms Kestrel remained on her perch, looking out over the lovely Brooklyn Bridge on-ramp.
Mr Kestrel has some notable markings. His chest is fairly pale and he has a lot of black spots. His tail is distinctly barred with black and white. I've never seen a tail like this before.
We can compare him to this other male kestrel, who nested on Orchard Street last summer. He has very few spots on his chest and his tail is bright rusty orange, with one black band.
Back to our South Street male...
I stayed with the kestrel pair as long as I could. The female flew off to parts unknown and the male flew from lamp post to lamp post before diving between some buildings.
You can see more of my NYC kestrel photos here.