I love raptors. No, not the ones you seen in Jurassic Park. Those are terrifying, even though I know they’re nothing but CGI. I’m talking about the types of birds that are also called Birds of Prey. From Owls to Ospreys, Kites to Kestrels, I think they’re grand and glorious. So when Folkmanis was kind enough to send some of their world-renowned puppets our way, I eagerly snatched up the American Kestrel.
Holy cow, this puppet is beautiful. They’ve got the American Kestrel’s colors down pat, from the blue wings sprinkled with black dots to the lovely tan body and cream-colored legs.The feet have four felt-tipped claws that feel velvety and are quite sturdy. The rest of the puppet is soft and pliable, with exception of the wings, which surround a firm but flexible inner core that keeps the wings open for “flight”.
It’s the usual up-the-bum type of puppet, with the wings being the primary movement option here. If you’re particularly dexterous (I am definitely not), you can place a finger in the neck area and move the head up-and-down as well. Of course, you can put a finger into the neck area and move the head up as you flap the wings…but it ends up looking like the Kestrel is trying to hard to flap. It’s not a good look, though kids may find it absolutely adorable. I find I’ve got an either-or for this puppet; either I’m manipulating the wings, or the head. Neither the twain shall meet.
But it’s easy to have the wings flapping, and the puppet looks great when you’re doing it. I could easily have ‘em flapping when I had the puppet on my hand with the wings facing me. Took me a minute or two with that, as I’m used to puppets where the action happens while the moving parts are facing away from me. But I soon had her swooping around, freaking out the cats.
American Kestrel comes with a bit of information on the bird, along with a cute story that kids can enact with their puppet. (Adults can do the same, I’m never one to judge.) Or, you can plan on bringing her along to your next RenFest as your ally. She’d be absolutely adorable flapping around in the wooded areas of your Fest. Or simply taking a perch in your room. She’s flexible like that.