MLB: Moth-munching bird finds perch at Twins ballpark
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — There is more than one way to catch flies at the Minnesota Twins' new ballpark.
During a game at Target Field last week, a bird of prey was spotted sitting atop the right field fowl — er, foul — pole. With a steady rain falling and the Twins being shut out by Baltimore, the bird drew plenty of attention as it swooped through the air, snaring insects lured by the bright stadium lights.
When its acrobatic acts were shown on the video scoreboard, the crowd went crazy. One close-up shot featured the bird eating a large moth clutched in its talons.
There's even a Twitter account with the username TargetFieldHawk and the name Kirby the Kestrel. One post says: "I know I'm technically the 'smallest' falcon, but I'm a Minneapolis moth's biggest nightmare."
Julia Ponder, the executive director of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, said the bird is a male American Kestrel. The kestrel is indeed the smallest falcon species in North America, and similar in size to a robin. It preys on insects, small rodents and small birds.
There's a wooded area not far to the west of the ballpark, a possible home for the bird. The ballpark insects are easy pickings at night and the bird didn't seem bothered by the activity and noise at Target Field.
"To me it's a little surprising the kestrel is hunting amid all of that," Ponder said. "Even when the crowd was cheering, it didn't seem to impact the kestrel at all. It just seemed to keep doing its thing."
The Twins, who are playing their first season at Target Field after three decades inside the Metrodome, earlier discovered some red-tailed hawks nesting in the scoreboard. The kestrel was a new addition to the in-game entertainment.
"He obviously found a good hunting ground," executive vice president for public affairs Kevin Smith said.
Cable network Fox Sports North has aired the footage often since the kestrel was caught on camera, with broadcasters Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven analyzing the action. Several fans have e-mailed the station asking about it, said communications manager Becky Ross, and FSN is considering options for future promotion.
Ponder said the bird was spotted again at the ballpark over the weekend.
"I hope he continues to put on a show," she said.