Tom's Blog

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Getting ready for the kestrels

We put up two kestrel nest boxes in 2008 and since then have been successful with the one closest to the cabin. It has been a delight to watch the birds'comings and goings from the porch, especially at lunch time. They have raised young each year, and last year they may have had two broods.

Since kestrels may winter in these parts, or at least start looking for nest sites in February, we try to clean the boxes out early. Sunday, a nice sunny day, Kathie and I did this chore.

The boxes are mounted on long, articulated poles, and to clean them we have to take out a bolt and swing the pole toward the ground. Because of the long pole, it is a little tricky to get a box down.

I held the box while Kathie scraped out the "junk" with a putty knife. It's pretty smelly stuff. We then resupply with fresh wood shavings.

I found the design for these boxes on a web site, but the hinged mounting arrangement came from Mark Martin at Madison Audubon's Goose Pond Sanctuary.

We have ideal kestrel habitat. They are primarily fly catchers, and feed over open, treeless ground. Our boxes are installed next to the wetland, and the kestrels fly generally back and forth between the box and some dead willows along the creek about 500 feet away. They also often fly up toward the south-slope prairie remnant and savanna that can be seen in the top photo.

Quite a treat!


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