Male American Kestrel Falcon Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Diet

male american kestrel

Overwhelmed with the expansive skies of North America, the American kestrel stands out as a diminutive yet vibrant marvel. It proudly holds the distinction of being the smallest and most colorful falcon across the region, captivating observers with its petite frame and striking plumage. Regardless of gender, this avian gem enthralls onlookers, making a mark with its distinct characteristics. This article will give an overview of the male American kestrel.

Male American Kestrel Falcon Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Diet

In the intricate web of North American avifauna, the male American kestrel emerges not only as the smallest but also as a bird of unparalleled charm and vibrancy. Its gender-specific traits, with the boldness of the male kestrel standing out prominently, contribute to the allure of this species. As it graces the skies with its colorful plumage and spirited flights, the American kestrel leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness its aerial prowess.

Physical Elegance

The American kestrel’s allure lies not only in its size but also in the captivating palette of colors that adorns its feathers. Displaying a kaleidoscope of hues, this diminutive falcon effortlessly captures the attention of anyone fortunate enough to witness its aerial dance. Its plumage is a testament to the artistry of nature, blending earthy tones and vibrant shades in a delicate yet harmonious symphony.

Gender Distinctions

Distinguishing between male and female American kestrels reveals a subtle yet fascinating contrast in behavior and appearance. Despite their petite stature, the male kestrel exudes an undeniable aura of bravery and cheerfulness. These traits manifest in its interactions and flights, creating an endearing image of a spirited bird navigating the open skies with a palpable sense of joy.

The Bold Male American Kestrel

Among the American kestrels, the male members stand out as particularly bold and exuberant. Their fearless demeanor and cheerful disposition set them apart, contributing to the overall charm of this falcon species. In the realm of birds of prey, the male American kestrel establishes itself as a symbol of courage, fearlessly navigating the vast expanses of the sky with an infectious spirit that resonates with onlookers.

Jolly Presence in the Avian Realm

In the grand tapestry of North America’s birdlife, the American kestrel, especially the males, injects a sense of jollity and vivacity. Their presence in the avian realm is marked by joyous flights and daring maneuvers, showcasing a distinctive personality that endears them to those who observe their aerial acrobatics. This jollity becomes a defining feature, adding a layer of charm to the already captivating presence of the American kestrel.

67-Year Average and Record Year

Over the course of 67 years, the average count of American kestrels stands at 389, offering a statistical lens into their population dynamics. This numerical snapshot encapsulates the ebb and flow of these fascinating birds, providing insight into their presence and prevalence over nearly seven decades. A closer examination reveals a noteworthy spike in the preceding decade, from 1992 to 2001, where the average soared to an impressive 611. In the annals of American kestrel history, the zenith was reached in 1989, a record-breaking year boasting an astonishing count of 839, a testament to the diversity and vitality of these aerial predators.

Prime Time for Observation

For enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of the American kestrel, strategic timing is key. The apex of opportunity unfolds at the conclusion of September, a window where the daily chance of spotting these birds reaches a remarkable 78%. During this temporal sweet spot, observers can anticipate a passing rate of 1 bird per hour, enhancing the likelihood of a rewarding avian encounter. Nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike can plan their excursions with precision, maximizing the probability of witnessing the captivating spectacle of American kestrels in their natural habitat.

Long-Term Trends: Undulating Patterns

Delving into the historical trajectory of American kestrel populations unveils undulating patterns of increase and decrease. From the mid-1960s, a steady ascent was observed, culminating in a peak during the early ’30s. Subsequently, a decline set in during the late 1970s and early ’90s, only to give way to a period of relative stability in the late ’80s and early ’80s. These nuanced shifts in population dynamics paint a vivid picture of the intricate ecological dance these birds engage in, responding to environmental variables and forging a delicate equilibrium.

AKA: Aliases that Resonate

Beyond their ornithological moniker, the American kestrel is known by a trio of evocative aliases: Sparrow Thunderbolt, Kylie Lightning, and Mouse. These alternative names encapsulate the essence of these birds—nimble, swift, and predatory. The nomenclature conjures images of thunderous swoops and lightning-fast dives, capturing the dynamic nature of these avian hunters that effortlessly traverse the skies in pursuit of their prey.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat

The male American kestrel, a diminutive yet widely distributed Falcon, is a captivating avian species that spans the vast expanse of the Western Hemisphere, stretching its presence from the icy realms of Alaska and Canada to the sun-kissed landscapes of southern South America. Notably, it holds the distinction of being the smallest and, simultaneously, the most prevalent Falcon species in North America.

In its quest for suitable surroundings, the male American kestrel exhibits a remarkable adaptability to diverse habitats, thriving in open landscapes with an abundance of cavities for hunting and suitable perches for surveilling potential prey. This remarkable versatility allows the kestrel to navigate through a spectrum of environments, ensuring its presence in a myriad of ecosystems.

Human Interaction and Adaptability

Evidencing an intriguing relationship with human-modified environments, the male American kestrel gracefully weaves its existence into the tapestry of our surroundings. Frequently encountered in roadside pastures and parklands, the kestrel has, historically, reaped benefits from agricultural landscapes. This symbiotic connection, however, faces contemporary challenges due to habitat alterations, urbanization, suburbanization, and the relentless march of deforestation. These threats pose potential risks by diminishing the available habitat crucial for the kestrel’s survival.

Physical Characteristics and Plumage

Identification of the male American kestrel is facilitated by a set of distinctive physical features, aligning it with its Falcon kin. Exhibiting long, pointed wings and an elongated tail, the kestrel presents a unique visage among its avian counterparts. In comparison to its more robust cousins, the Marlene and Peregrine Falcons, the kestrel boasts wings of lesser power, endowing it with a buoyant grace during flight.

A noteworthy peculiarity of the kestrel lies in its sexually dimorphic plumage, a characteristic that sets it apart within the Falconidae family. Intriguingly, these birds acquire their mature, sexually dimorphic plumage before reaching maturity, adding an element of uniqueness to their developmental journey.

Plumage Details and Sexual Dimorphism

Draped in a captivating array of colors, male kestrels showcase a mesmerizing blend of blue-gray wings, complemented by reddish-brown backs and tails. Meanwhile, the females don an elegant ensemble of reddish-brown wings adorned with black markings. Further distinctions emerge in the form of a wide, black sub-terminal band on the males’ rufous tails, culminating in a pristine white tip.

The intricacies of plumage extend to the head, where both genders sport blue-gray crowns with varying degrees of Rufus. Accentuating their facial features are two distinctive dark vertical stripes on the sides of their heads, resembling enigmatic “eyelids” at the back. Notably, females, exhibiting a size advantage of 10-15% over their male counterparts, present a mosaic of light-colored underparts, often embellished with brown hues and adorned with numerous dark bars. In contrast, males display variable amounts of dark spots or striking patterns, creating a visually captivating spectacle.

Field Marks: Nature’s Artistry on Display

The canvas of the American kestrel is adorned with distinctive field marks, each stroke of nature’s brush contributing to a visually stunning masterpiece. Their blue-jaw-shaped, colored falcon visage, coupled with long, muscular wings and a conspicuous head, forms a striking silhouette against the canvas of the sky. The males, clad in white underparts occasionally speckled with black, boast a rufous tail, blue wings, and black-tipped feathers. In contrast, the females exhibit a captivating blend of cream-colored underparts, and abstract barrack-like patterns on wings and tail, presenting an artistic tapestry woven by nature’s hand.

Airplane Behavior: Aerial Choreography Unveiled

The American kestrel’s airborne behavior unfolds like a meticulously choreographed aerial performance. Typically solitary in migration, these birds occasionally form small rapist groups, creating an intriguing spectacle in the skies. Their flight patterns are a study in contrast—sometimes swift and direct, occasionally punctuated by graceful glides. The habitual flapping and gliding during migration underscore the agility of these avian beings, showcasing their mastery of the skies with fast and irregular aircraft maneuvers.

What size is the male American kestrel?

  • 1’8 “-2’Wingspan
  • 8-11 ”in length
  • 2.2: 1W-L ratio
  • 3.5-5Wight (in ounces)

The Falconi Family: Diverse Avian Residents

The Falconi family, a captivating assembly comprising 60 distinct species, is an enthralling congregation of corkscrews, falcons, pygmy falcons, forest falcons, and a variety of other falcon species. Their fascinating existence spans the vast geographical tapestry from the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada, stretching down to the southern reaches of Tierra del Fuego in South America. Remarkably, this avian extravaganza exclusively unfolds in the New World, creating a mosaic of avian splendor across the Americas.

The Miniature Marvel: American Kestrels in Detail

Resembling the size of a Blue Jay, the American kestrels are pint-sized wonders often misconstrued as Morning Doves due to their petite stature and perch-bound habits on utility lines. Once whimsically referred to as “sparkling lightning,” these enchanting raptors exhibit distinctive traits that set them apart in the avian realm.

Winged Elegance: Gender Disparities Among American Kestrels

In the intricate tapestry of American kestrels, gender distinctions are not only visible but also quite enchanting. The males boast resplendent blue-gray wings, while their female counterparts showcase wings adorned in earthy brown hues. This visual disparity becomes particularly pronounced as these kestrels mature, reaching a point where they can be individually identified by their flock at a mere three years of age.

Unconventional Nesting: Homes and Habits of American Kestrels

Contrary to the conventional avian narrative, American kestrels eschew the construction of their nests. Instead, they opt for the practicality of nesting in boxes crafted by other birds or, intriguingly, in man-made nest boxes. This unique nesting behavior adds a layer of complexity to their lifestyles, blending a touch of adaptability with a reliance on the creations of other creatures.

Migratory Marvels: American Kestrels on the Move

The migratory patterns of American kestrels unfold as a diverse narrative, with some embarking on extensive journeys while others remain rooted in their territories. Notably, the male American kestrel exhibits a proclivity for northern reaches during winters, creating an intriguing dynamic within the avian landscape. As the seasons shift, the hunting grounds for female kestrels transition to more open, less wooded areas.

Conservation Chronicles: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s Nestbox Initiatives

For over seven decades, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has been a steadfast guardian of kestrel welfare. Since the early 1950s, the sanctuary has actively participated in the construction of nest boxes designed exclusively for these avian wonders. This dedicated effort aligns with the broader mission of preserving and nurturing the rich biodiversity of the Kempton Valley, ensuring that these aerial acrobats continue to grace the skies with their vibrant presence.

Aerial Gems: The Transparent Tapestry of American Kestrels

In the vast expanse of North America, the male American kestrel emerges as a splendid avian gem. As one of the smallest and most colorful members of the falcon family, their vibrant plumage and open-dwelling nature make them not just easily recognizable but also a subject of fascination for avid bird watchers. This transparent, colorful, and captivating raptor, akin in size to a mourning dove, stands as a testament to the diverse and captivating world of the Falconi family.

Loyalty and Nesting Patterns

American Kestrels, characterized by their remarkable loyalty, consistently return to the same nesting regions year after year. Remarkably, these birds exhibit a tendency to reuse nest sites, particularly if they have experienced successful broods in those locations. The male American kestrel, typically consistent in appearance, often forms enduring partnerships, with certain pairs staying together throughout the entire year. Notably, suburban populations witness the kestrels remaining on-site for the entirety of a year.

Intricate Courtship Rituals

In immigrant populations, a distinct pattern emerges, where males precede females in returning to the reproductive area. Upon the arrival of females, the intricate dance of courtship ensues, featuring air displays and courtship feeding. Aerial displays involve a captivating series of continuous dives and climbs, accompanied by repeated calls from the male. This period sees males taking the lead in identifying suitable nest sites.

Unique Courtship Feeding and Nesting Rituals

Pair bonds are solidified through air displays, and courtship feeding plays a pivotal role in this process. Aerial displays are marked by graceful dives and climbs, punctuated by the resonating calls of the males. Men actively participate in the search for suitable nest sites and, in some cases, employ captivating “flutter-glides,” offering food to encourage the female to follow to the nest.

Vocal Expressions and Communication

During the breeding season, American Kestrels become notably vocal, their most frequent call being a rapid, high-pitched cli-cli-cli-cli. Males, often engaged in “grumble-gliding,” approach the nest site while delivering prey. When the female responds, she gracefully exits the nest with accompanying “jerk-glides.” The pair then perches together, and the male transfers food to the female in a harmonious display of partnership.

Parental Roles and Feeding Dynamics

The initial weeks after hatching are crucial, with males taking on a significant role in feeding until the young reach two weeks of age. Beyond this point, both males and females actively contribute to nourishing their offspring. Females are observed engaging in “scraping” behavior on the cavity floor for the ovaries, indicating their involvement in creating a suitable nesting environment.

male American kestrel

Breeding Challenges and Nesting Habits

Typically, American kestrels raise a single brood annually, laying four to five eggs. However, in cases of early clutch loss, males demonstrate a remarkable commitment by maintaining the grip for a replacement. While one brood per season is the norm, there are instances of pairs successfully raising two broods in rare occurrences.

Maturation and Survival Struggles

The period of incubation lasts approximately 30 days, primarily carried out by the female. After hatching, the female remains dedicated to nesting until the chicks are around nine days old. Subsequently, her brooding activities decrease, and she shifts her focus to hunting and enhancing her role in providing sustenance. Young kestrels rely on parental care for two to three weeks, occasionally returning to the nest and fostering closer bonds with their siblings during this crucial developmental phase.

American Kestrels: Opportunistic Predators in Open Spaces

American kestrels, those opportunistic predators of the avian world, gracefully navigate the open skies, often with sparse vegetation beneath. Their modus operandi leans heavily towards the strategy of a patient and vigilant “sitting and waiting” perch-hunter. The quality of their perch, elevated to an art form, becomes a pivotal factor in determining the suitability of habitats. The superior perch grants them an elevated vantage point, enhancing their visibility over the surrounding expanse.

Hovering Flight: A Lesser-Known Hunting Technique

While their primary hunting style revolves around the sedentary “sit and wait” approach, the American kestrel occasionally employs a distinctive yet less frequent method – the hovering flight. This method, akin to a ballet in the air, is more commonly known as hover-hunting. It is during such moments that the male American kestrel, often bereft of perches, displays its adeptness in capturing prey with a remarkable agility that surpasses its perch-bound counterpart.

Precision in Predation: A Ballet of Bites and Grabs

When it comes to securing sustenance, the male American kestrel exhibits a flair for precision. The drama unfolds with the raptor seizing its prey by the talons, executing a seamless aerial grab. The final act sees a lethal bite administered at the nape of the prey’s head, sealing its fate. For smaller prey, the feasting may happen right there on the ground or in mid-flight. In contrast, larger prey undergoes transportation to the favored perch for a grander culinary experience.

Seasonal Appetites: The Culinary Calendar of American Kestrels

The banquet of American kestrels is not a year-round affair; rather, it follows a seasonal rhythm. The catching of surplus food, a behavior integral to their survival, reaches its zenith during the autumn and winter months, waning in the warmth of summer. In this gastronomic tale, insects and small mammals become the protagonists, filling the kestrel’s menu. The drama of survival unfolds as the kestrels adapt their dietary preferences to the ever-changing seasons.

Culinary Diversity: Insects, Birds, and the Art of Consumption

The culinary palette of American kestrels boasts a rich diversity, mirroring the varied landscapes they inhabit. These avian hunters are particularly adept at capturing insects, often consuming them whole. Yet, the grandeur of their culinary prowess extends to partial feasts, sometimes indulging only in the heads and internal parts of larger insects. Grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, and butterflies are all welcomed onto the feathery dining table. In this avian gastronomy, even spiders and scorpions find a place, adding a touch of the exotic.

Prey Beyond the Winged Realm: A Gourmet Affair with Wolves and Rats

While insects remain a staple, American kestrels occasionally broaden their culinary horizons. Wolves, rats, and even raw small birds find a place on the kestrel’s gourmet menu. The eclectic taste extends further to include small birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Yet, in this avian gastronomic narrative, the consumption of their own kind is a rare occurrence, reserved for hunting purposes before the prey meets its inevitable fate and is strategically stowed away.

Diverse Migration Patterns of Male American Kestrels

The male American kestrel, a remarkable member among the 26 North American raptors, engages in partial migration, distinguishing itself as a species with intriguing patterns of movement. While some individuals within the population choose to remain in their habitats throughout the year, a substantial portion embarks on migratory journeys. The breeding tendencies of American kestrels lean towards the northern parts of their range, creating a disparity in migration rates between the northern and southern regions.

Leap-Frog Migration and Geographic Preferences

A distinctive “leap-frog” migration pattern unfolds as northern kestrels winter in the southernmost regions, presenting an interesting dynamic in their seasonal movements. Unlike their counterparts, the southern population tends to exhibit a more sedentary lifestyle, residing in their territories year-round. This migration variance is particularly evident in the South of the South, where a juxtaposition of wintering and residential kestrels occurs.

Wintering Habits in North America

In comparison to other falcons like Merlins and Peregrines, the male American kestrel predominantly overwinters within North America. This divergence in behavior suggests a unique adaptation to environmental conditions and contrasts with the long-distance tropical overwintering habits observed in some raptor species.

Strategic Migration Routes Along Landscapes

Similar to many raptors, American kestrels strategically navigate their migratory routes, showcasing a preference for specific geographical features. The frontlines of their migration journey often unfold along the Atlantic coast, the shores of the Great Lakes, the Appalachian Mountains in the east, and the Rocky Mountains in the west. Notably, coastal watch sites yield higher observation figures compared to indoor viewing sites.

Self-Propelled Immigration and Environmental Influences

The male American kestrel, akin to other falcons, is an essentially self-propelled immigrant, occasionally migrating to exploit more favorable conditions. Their movements are intricately connected to environmental factors, with an inclination towards mountainous terrains and warmer climates during their travels.

Avoidance of Large Water Crossings and Optimal Conditions

Interestingly, the species tends to steer clear of extensive water crossings during migration, opting for routes that minimize such challenges. Observations at Hawk Mountain Sanctuaries suggest that male American kestrel flights peak when cold fronts cross the region, indicating a reliance on strong updrafts associated with these weather phenomena.

Declining Populations and Habitat Challenges

The current estimated population of the American kestrel, a native species in the New World, surpasses a substantial four million birds. However, as the twentieth century concluded, a troubling decline in their numbers was observed, particularly in the northeastern United States, Texas, and Arkansas. This decline, puzzling in nature, has spurred investigations into the manifold factors influencing the fate of these majestic raptors.

Human Influence and Nesting Challenges

In the face of a changing landscape shaped by human activity, the male American kestrel has displayed remarkable adaptability to environments shaped by human populations. Yet, the very systems designed to accommodate human needs, such as altered agricultural practices, loss of farmland, and the expanding reach of suburban and urban areas, have inadvertently posed challenges for these avian inhabitants. The reduction of suitable nesting sites has emerged as a significant issue, raising concerns about the long-term prospects of the American kestrel population.

Nesting Competition with Diverse Species

The struggle for nesting sites intensifies as American kestrels find themselves in competition with a variety of other bird species. Potential nest competitors include European Sterlings, Screech Owls, Northern Flickers, and even squirrels. This competition for limited resources adds a layer of complexity to the ecological dynamics surrounding the American kestrel, as different species vie for coveted nesting spaces.

Man-Made Solutions: Artificial Nest Boxes

In certain regions, the introduction of artificial nest boxes has emerged as a positive intervention, fostering the growth of the male American kestrel population. These man-made structures not only provide additional nesting sites but also facilitate the expansion of the kestrel population into previously unoccupied territories. The success of such initiatives highlights the potential for human interventions to play a crucial role in conservation efforts. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Emerging Threats: Predatory Pressures and Environmental Hazards

The resurgence in the populations of sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks, both species known to prey on American kestrels, adds a layer of complexity to the conservation narrative. The increasing presence of these predators has been linked to a potential decline in the American kestrel population in the northeast. Moreover, beyond predation, other threats loom large, including collisions with vehicles and buildings, attacks by domestic pets, and the hazards posed by electrical infrastructure.

Man-Made Structures as Nesting Spots

The male American kestrel, with its vibrant plumage and swift aerial maneuvers, exhibits a penchant for nesting not only in natural habitats but also in various man-made structures. Among these, nest boxes specifically constructed for the species have proven to be welcoming homes for these remarkable birds of prey. The implementation of nest-box programs designed for kestrel nestlings serves a dual purpose: it not only fosters the well-being of individual birds but also contributes to the expansion of kestrel populations in regions where natural nest sites are limited. Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness

Varied Nesting Cavities Preferences

American kestrels display a fascinating affinity for nesting in cavities, both natural and those fashioned by human hands. These cavities become the sanctuaries where kestrel families thrive and grow. The species exhibits a distinct preference for nest sites encompassed by suitable hunting grounds, creating an ideal habitat that caters to their specific needs. Moreover, the presence of blocked entrances provides an added layer of security, ensuring the safety of the kestrel broods within.

Challenges in Nesting Availability

In certain geographical regions, the scarcity of available nest cavities poses a challenge to the reproductive success of American kestrels. The limitations in nesting sites can directly impact the number of breeding pairs in these areas, hindering the natural progression of the kestrel population. The intricate dance of survival becomes even more complex as these birds contend with the realities of a habitat that may not fully accommodate their nesting requirements. Business – Money Making – Marketing – E-commerce

Adaptive Nesting Strategies

Resourceful in their pursuit of suitable nesting spaces, kestrels exhibit adaptability by utilizing cavities crafted by nature itself. Woodland areas, with cavities expertly excavated over time, become crucial nesting grounds for these birds. The interplay between kestrels and the wooded landscape highlights the ingenious ways in which they navigate challenges, utilizing pre-existing resources to sustain their reproductive cycles.

Beyond Trees: Unconventional Nesting Sites

The nesting preferences of American kestrels extend beyond the realms of wooded areas. The crevices nestled within rocks and the cut banks along streams emerge as alternative sites for potential nests. This diverse selection of nesting locations underscores the species’ flexibility in adapting to various environments. The utilization of such unconventional spots showcases the kestrel’s resourcefulness in finding suitable niches to raise their offspring, enriching the intricate tapestry of their nesting habits. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more

Varied Causes of Mortality

The mortality factors impacting American kestrels are diverse and multifaceted. While shooting incidents are relatively rare, historical accounts reveal instances of these raptors being targeted during migration. Collisions with vehicles, buildings, and power lines, coupled with attacks by domestic cats and dogs, contribute significantly to the species’ mortality rates. Additionally, exposure to toxins, primarily pesticides, poses a localized threat, potentially affecting their population by diminishing the abundance of prey. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga

Scientific Inquiries: American Kestrels in Research

American kestrels have not only captivated the interest of conservationists but also become subjects of scientific studies. These studies, encompassing topics such as the impact of DDT on egg density and the effects of electric and magnetic fields on birds, showcase the broader ecological relevance of the species. The American kestrel’s role in experimental models has provided valuable insights that extend beyond their immediate conservation concerns, contributing to a deeper understanding of environmental impacts on avian populations.

Seasonal Variances and Maternal Considerations

In the autumn season, there is a notable difference in the migratory behavior between adolescent and female American kestrels compared to adult males. The pre-maternity molt in males takes longer, leading to delayed migration. At Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the median date for female passage precedes that of males by a significant 11 days, unveiling a nuanced temporal aspect to their migration. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing

Winter Habitat Dynamics and Arrival Challenges

Late arrivals on winter grounds can pose challenges for male kestrels, potentially forcing them into sub-optimal habitats if prime locations are already occupied. This adaptive response reflects the species’ ability to navigate and cope with changing conditions, ensuring survival during the winter months.

Sexual Dimorphism in Winter Habitats

In the southern part of South America, intriguing observations reveal a segregation in winter habitats between the sexes. Females tend to appear in more open habitats, while males gravitate towards forested areas, showcasing a nuanced behavioral difference that adds to the complexity of their migratory patterns. Bird accessories on Amazon

Peak Migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

At Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a renowned observation site, the migration of American kestrels reaches its zenith between mid-September and mid-October. This period represents a culmination of diverse migration behaviors, offering enthusiasts and researchers an opportune window to witness and study the intricate patterns of these fascinating raptors.

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