What Kind of Tiny Hawk or Falcon is Perching in a Tree in Lakeside Park Mississauga Ontario?

Recently, I went for a brisk walk on a freezing but clear winter day along Lake Ontario at Lakeside Park in Mississauga. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some more interesting ducks like the Goldeneye, Scaup and Buffleheads I had seen her earlier in the winter. I walked towards shore then towards the east to get a closer look at a pair of circling Red Tailed hawks. As I passed the end of the Off Leash Dog Exercise area, I noticed a bird sitting on top of a young-ish tree in a slightly more naturalized area. But what kind of bird was it?

Photo of Mystery Bird in Tree at Lakeside Park Mississauga ON February

As you can see from this first photo, it was just slightly larger than a robin. Given the cold temperatures it could even be a very puffed up robin. But the colours didn’t look right, and I couldn’t understand why a robin would perch in such an exposed spot. Operating under the hope that it might be something better, I started shooting photos.

As I got closer I realized with pleasure that this was actually a raptor. The sun was still glaring in my eyes, so I couldn’t see the birds colouring clearly. Unfortunately, I forgot even my basic birding skills and crashed too close (25 feet) to its tree. The bird flew. And then I immediately knew.

The shape of the wings and the type of flight meant it was a kestrel.

A kestrel is the smallest falcon in Ontario. However, these tiny fighters used to be called Sparrow Hawks, so I know some people think of them as hawks.

Photo of Female Kestrel in Tree at Lakeside Park Mississauga ON February C

The sharply pointed wings and sleek streamlined shape were obvious as it glided in to land half way up a mighty poplar near a field. Rather than risk it wasting more energy on me on such a cold afternoon, I retraced my steps to the shore and took photos of icicles from the surf.

Once home, I looked at my photos and was pleased to confirm it was a female kestrel. The males have slate coloured wings; the females’ wings are brown.

Photo of Mystery Bird in Tree at Lakeside Park Mississauga ON February B

Since most of the ducks I saw were mallards or very distant Buffleheads, Scaup and Goldeneyes, it was great to see something unexpected. I hope her hunting was also successful!

Join In
Have you seen a kestrel sitting on a telephone wire or hovering over a farmer’s field? Please share your experiences with a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *