Songbird Protection Coalition

Protected Falcons - Mistakenly Shot

‚ÄčIt's hard to imagine someone mistaking a falcon for a mourning dove, but it happens all the time in states which allow dove hunting. It's a simple case of mistaken identity.

Due to the similar flight pattern, size, and preferred habitat, the American kestrel or sparrow hawk is commonly shot by mourning dove hunters. These hunters are often inexperienced and they unintentionally target falcons not knowing they are shooting a federally protected falcon.

North America's smallest falcon is widespread and, just like the mourning dove, can be found in a variety of habitats. In Michigan, they reside in both urban and rural areas commonly seen hunting along roadsides from telephone wires or trees.

How commonly is an American kestrel mistaken for a mourning dove?

Often...even by you. Next time you see "doves" on telephone wires - take a good look...if the tail is pointed, it's a mourning dove...if it is square, it's a falcon. You will be surprised how what you thought you saw is really something else.