This last weekend my family and I had the opportunity to meet and greet Baron, an education kestrel that I help support at the Raptor Center in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. His human companion, Gail, is a manager there and told us about the many things the Raptor Center does to help injured birds and especially hatchlings who are in trees that have been or need to be cut down.
Fifteen years ago, Baron was imprinted on the people that tried to feed him and his brothers after their nest home came crashing down. He and his siblings were found to be afraid of other kestrels and could not be returned to the wild, so now he serves as a handsome little ambassador for his species.
My family learned about how the Raptor Center uses hack boxes - a way to acclimate foundling birds to the outdoors so that they can live a normal life.
The Raptor Center has three other education kestrels, all recently taken under their wing because of blindness or physical inability to fly. They have enormous respect for all their birds and stress the development and maintenance of trust. I was so excited to meet Baron! But his story and his living in a bird's twilight zone with caring humans only reinforces how kestrels are truly themselves in the wild. Even captive kestrels know it's mating season right now.