Also known as windhover because he can hover, even in still air, but when he
hovers he usually faces toward a breeze, no matter how slight.
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote
Dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding / of the rolling level underneath him steady air . . . .
Say that aloud: in his riding / of the rolling level underneath him steady air . . . .
rolling level underneath him steady five troches that roll along
like a wave, cresting and falling, cresting and falling and land lightly on air
In some future time and place a kestrel perches on a leafless branch on a leafless tree, waits
for something to stir. The landscape is open, naked, brown as his dominant plumage (but oh
the blue-gray of his wings, the black streak descending from his eye like a tear).
With a push he sends himself into the rolling level underneath him steady air. All is silent
except for the clack of his feathers as he holds himself upright facing into a breeze,
tailfeathers spread, wingfeathers spread, head bent like a penitent to scan the ground.
He tilts and sleekens and spills himself down, talons thrusting, strikes.
Dead insect in claw he lifts and flaps back to his tree, to the hollow space in its trunk, where
she waits for him with the new one, first to emerge from the clutch, and only.
He drops his gift and she shares it with the hatchling.