Sporting the gorgeous slate blue wings and solid deep cinnamon tail of male American kestrels, Cricket is a popular raptor ambassador at The Raptor Center. He joined the education team in 2021 after he was presumed to be “orphaned” and was raised by people with good intentions.
Raising raptors in captivity is a highly scientific process. In order to ensure a young raptor’s physical, mental, and behavioral health, best practices should be used by trained professionals only.
During the critical nestling phase, raptors develop permanent associations that guide their behavior through their entire lifetime.
One of these associations is their self-identity. If they do not associate appropriately with other members of their species, they become non-releasable. This was unfortunately what happened to Cricket. He was raised to self-identify with people and now carries the label of human imprint.
Instead of being a stealthy little falcon helping keep the ecosystem in balance by hunting small rodents (mice and voles) and insects (worms, crickets, and grasshoppers), he now spends his days educating people to be advocates for young raptors—sharing the message of what actions to take if someone thinks a young raptor needs help.