Tom's Blog

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

American kestrel nest boxes

Although small, the American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a feisty bird that throws its weight around with fierce intensity. It's one of the most colorful birds of prey. I've always loved that it found a  place on the 1 cent stamp.

We installed three kestrel nest boxes in 2008 using Madison Audubon's design, and have had good nesting success every year since. We have ideal kestrel habitat, wide open territory with good perches in the savannas and woodlands nearby. They swoop across the open fields, sometimes using the wind to give them lift while they hover. Their primary foods are insects or other small prey.

Most kestrels in our area probably migrate south in the winter, but return about the end of February to find nesting sites. They like high sites to nest, and our boxes are about 15 feet off the ground. As the photo below shows, the support is articulated so that the box can be brought down for cleaning. After scraping out the old debris, we put in a load of fresh wood chips. 

Putting fresh wood chips in the nest box.

Unfortunately, we had a tragedy this year. Just outside the barn, Kathie found a dead kestrel lying on the snow. It probably got killed flying into the side of the barn. Although this was a sad sight, it did give us a chance to see a kestrel up close.


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