American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations are generally declining across the species' North American distribution but the population in the Southern High Plains region currently appears to be stable. Historical evidence suggests the region formerly had a low abundance of kestrels, and that their current numbers are due to landscape changes associated with European settlement. We conducted monthly surveys for American Kestrels across 2 yr to estimate seasonal densities and identify land cover associations in the Southern High Plains of Texas. We found an overall estimated density of 0.99 birds/km2 (95% CI = 0.406, 1.582) across the 2-yr period, with seasonal estimated densities highest in autumn and winter (0.92–2.53/km2), and lowest in spring (0.49–0.67/km2). Whereas other studies have found that temperature influenced detection of wintering kestrels, we found an interaction of drought conditions and snow most strongly influenced the number of kestrels in our study area. Kestrels largely used land cover types in proportion to availability but there was some evidence of seasonal shifts. Generally, they tended to avoid cotton fields and sometimes selected for areas with woodlots, abandoned or occupied houses, and barns, all of which likely provided nesting and roosting opportunities. Our study provides the first contemporary assessment of seasonal abundance and habitat associations of American Kestrels in the Southern High Plains, where their presence and abundance has been unintentionally facilitated by landscape changes following settlement. We provide a baseline for population monitoring and studies assessing response to additional landscape changes (e.g., development of wind energy facilities) and a changing climate.

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