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Kele, original painting by Barbara Banthien
Kele, American Kestrel




I was commissioned to paint Kele due to his unusual story. Kele is an American kestrel who lives at WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation center in San Rafael, CA. He was probably raised since infancy as a pet and never had exposure to living in nature. He never learned how to feed himself in the wild, and could not be released.

In 2013, an orphaned baby male kestrel was brought to Wildcare. Unable to take care of himself, he was placed with Kele in hopes that the mature bird could help in the rehabilitation of the young chick. Once it was shown that Kele would not be aggressive towards the baby, they were placed together. Much to the surprise and delight of the staff, Kele took on the role of Dad, despite having no experience of being with his own kestrel parents. He fed and protected the chick until he was able to eat on his own. The young kestrel stayed with Wildcare until he learned to hunt and fly, at which time he was released back into the wild.

painting of a house finch