You are here

General Discussion : KestrelCam Updates Archive

Many folks have been curious about what happened in past years of the KestrelCams. I have all of the past updates saved starting in 2012 - so I figured it would be fun to post them here! Have a read, and enjoy!

I will copy-paste them as they are - note that all but 2013 are in reverse order!

Comments:

Delorahilleary's picture

[2012 updates]

22 June 2012

 

Wednesday around 10:30 am, our first fledgling took the plunge and jumped out of the nestbox. Two more followed him yesterday morning, leaving only two nestlings inside the box. Keep an eye out! They could fly away at any minute.

 

Did you miss the fledging? If so we have uploaded videos of both the first and second chicks jumping out of the box. We particularly enjoyed the reactions of the siblings left behind:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKv8zSX2PQ0&feature=youtu.be

 

Also, no worries if you haven’t had enough kestrel. Keep checking back at bedtime: fledglings rely on food delivered by their parents for a couple of weeks even after leaving the nest, and will often roost inside the nestbox at night. This period of dependency is important given that it is within these first few weeks that the young kestrels must learn to hunt on their own. When they leave the nestbox they are shaky flyers, engaging in what biologists call a “flutter glide” from tree to tree to explore and test their wings. As they learn to hunt we will observe the kestrels mastering more advanced styles of flight that involve steady soaring and heavier wing beats.

 

You will also notice that the fledglings’ feathers haven’t finished growing when they first start to fly (this is particularly obvious with the tail—compare a nestling’s with mom’s). Soon, however, certain flight feathers will be slightly longer than those of an adult! We can think of this first set of feathers as avian training wheels: it is theorized that the longer feathers can help compensate for young birds’ weak muscles and developing flight skills. With their first molt, kestrels will lose these “training” feathers and grow in a fresh set of adult plumage.

 

18 June 2012

 

By 28-31 days of age, kestrel nestlings have grown to their full adult size and are ready to leave the nest. Our chicks are nearly at this mark, so their parents now rarely enter the box, preferring instead to toss whole prey to their hungry offspring. This isn’t laziness, but an important behavioral adaptation: the act of ripping meat forces nestlings to exercise muscles that they will soon need for flight.

 

The stakes are high. Imagine for a moment that the first time you rose and took your first shaky steps there was not only nobody there to catch you, but you were charged with the immediate task of evading predators. This scenario seems inconceivable for ourselves, a species that matures slowly and with parental protection, but for kestrels fledging is a routine event. They are already preparing! Over the next few days you will notice the nestlings flapping their wings for exercise and observing the outside world from the nestbox entrance.

 

 

14 June 2012

 

Adult feathers have now grown in to the point where our viewers can count the number of male and female offspring. At this age it is easier to look at the birds’ backs than their tails for clues, so remember that males will be more colorful than females and show fewer dark stripes.

 

You will also be noticing the nestlings’ rather humorous habit of projectile defecating up onto the walls of the nestbox. The result is more than a coat of whitewash: by shooting their feces up out of the way, nestlings keep themselves and their bedding surprisingly clean.

 

In fact, while the nestbox does get a bit ripe if judged by human sensibilities, it is a well-suited nursery for young kestrels. Leftover prey remains are cleaned up by decomposer tenants called dermestid beetles, and it may even be possible that uric acid (the white stuff) in accumulated kestrel feces serves as a disinfectant. Is it actually beneficial to let the kestrel poo accumulate? This is what naturally happens in tree cavities, so are we actually doing kestrels a disservice by cleaning their boxes from year to year? We can find out! By comparing nestboxes that are cleaned each year and nestboxes that are not, this is one question that the American Kestrel Partnership is setting out to answer.

 

 

 

7 June 2012

Last night was the first time we observed the female spend the night sleeping somewhere outside of the nestbox, leaving her nestlings to huddle up and stay warm without brooding heat from mom.  Their ongoing feather development will enable them to independently thermoregulate more and more.

 

The nestlings’ new feathers are now clearly visible underneath their down and they are spending a fair amount of time "preening," or grooming. This habit will continue throughout their lives, because birds keep their feathers in good flying condition through meticulous care. The next time you see a bird preening, watch closely: feather barbs will often separate in flight, but they "zip" back together when a bird runs its beak down the length of the shaft. Preening birds also rub their beaks on a special gland at the base of the tail, which spreads oil adapted to keep feathers clean, moist, and flexible.  You can enjoy an excellent photo series of a male kestrel preening, photographed by Mia McPherson, one of the professional photographers sponsoring the American Kestrel Partnership:

 

http://kestrel.peregrinefund.org/photos&photog=mcpherson-mia

 

Preening is also necessary for the nestlings' current stage of feather development. Feathers emerge from the skin protected by a thin layer of the same keratinous material which makes up the shaft (these new feathers look pointy—hence their name, "pin feathers"). As chicks preen, they pull off the temporary casings to free their emerging adult feather.

 

4 June 2012

Viewers will notice that the chicks are growing like weeds and are now able to keep themselves warm for most of the day, hobble around the nestbox, and begin the process of strengthening their flight muscles through flapping. If you look closely, it is even possible to see the first hints of adult feathers when the nestlings stretch out their wings. With growth like this, no wonder they’re keeping their parents busy bringing home food!

 

25 May 2012

We are pleased to announce that five chicks have successfully hatched! You may then be wondering: why is the female still sitting in the nestbox? Kestrels hatch with only a thin layer of down and not enough body mass to regulate their own temperature, meaning that the parents must keep them warm by “brooding” until they grow larger and develop a new layer of insulation.

This is not the same process that all birds undergo. Think, for example, of chickens. These “precocial” chicks hatch with the immediate ability to feed themselves, run around behind their mother, and thermoregulate on their own. Or we have “altricial” birds like robins, whose chicks hatch completely naked and helpless. Since kestrels must be brooded and fed, but still have some down and a limited ability to crawl around, they are called “semialtricial” by biologists.

 

22 May 2012

The chicks are hatching! Did you know: young kestrel chicks show what's called an "egg-tooth," or a temporary whitish protrusion off their beak that they use to break the eggshell on their way out (called "pipping"). This can be a long and tiring process--as you might expect. Lucky for the chicks, though, both parents are waiting on the other side to keep them warm and well-fed.

 

24 April 2012

Five eggs have been laid.

 

Delorahilleary's picture

[2013 Updates]
 

(Began around April 25th)

Week 1

Welcome to the 2013 KestrelCam season! This is the second year a webcam has monitored American Kestrels in nest boxes located at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Kestrels have been seen in and around the nest box recently, so we hope they will settle in soon.

We will keep you informed about what is happening at the nest in the Updates section on this page, so please check back regularly. You also can have KestrelCam Updates emailed directly to your inbox by signing up at my.peregrinefund.org. If you haven’t yet registered, simply create your own login and password and check the box for KestrelCam Update.

Thank you for your support of our webcam project and your interest in these fascinating birds!

Week 2

The breeding season began in February when we first noticed courtship behaviors, including

  • Spectacular aerial displays
  • Loud calls and quiet “e-chups” to each other
  • Bowing their heads to each other
  • Food exchanges

These are similar to the behaviors that falcons exhibit in the wild. Kestrel pairs do not build nests but seek out cavities in trees, cliffs, poles, and buildings. They adapt well to artificial nest boxes and can tolerate some human activity, making them perfect candidates for backyard bird-watching.

The Peregrine Fund launched the American Kestrel Partnership in 2012 to address the growing decline of kestrel populations, which have decreased by 47 percent over the last 45 years. We want to know why. Our Partnership brings together citizen scientists and professional researchers to collect and analyze the data that will be needed to keep kestrels around for future generations.

Have you joined the Partnership yet? Check out our website and sign up today!

Week 3

Can you tell the difference between the male and female? Birds of prey usually appear very similar but in kestrels, the male is noticeably brighter in color than the female. Males have slate blue patches on their wings, while the females are uniformly brown.

Also, look at the difference in the markings on their tail feathers. Females’ tails are striped all the way up. Males have just one solid black band at the bottom.

If you see the birds standing side by side, you will notice that the female is larger than the male. This characteristic, which is common to most birds of prey, is called “reverse sexual dimorphism.”

Week 4

Egg laying begins! Details….

Typically, kestrels lay four to six white, brown-spotted eggs. They will be incubated for about a month mostly by the female. The male will spend his time hunting and delivering food to the female, although he will likely assume incubation duties for short periods while the female takes a break.

In the first week, the embryos inside the eggs will form the blood vessels that are the foundation of the chick’s circulatory and nervous systems.

Week 5

We hope that all the eggs are viable and will produce chicks but we won’t know for sure until hatching begins, which is now about three weeks away. Last year, all five eggs hatched and the chicks fledged successfully.

Assuming all is well, the embryos are quickly developing. From time to time, the adults will stand up and rotate the eggs to be sure they are warmed evenly and thoroughly. Rotation also prevents the embryo from sticking to the egg’s inner membrane, which could present a problem during hatching.

With a body temperature of 104 degrees F, the adults are able to keep the eggs warm even on cold spring days. During incubation, a “brood patch” develops on the chests of the adults. This bare spot keeps the eggs in close contact with the parents’ bodies for maximum heat.

Week 6

Three weeks old …

Week 7

With hatching only a few days away, the chicks are preparing to break out of their shells. By now, they have internal organs, a circulatory system and skeleton, as well as a beating heart, feathers, and beak.

Hatching will be exhausting work for the tiny chicks, but they are developing biological tools especially for this purpose. An egg tooth is forming on the top of their beaks. When they are ready to emerge, the chicks will use this sharp structure to pierce the inside membrane and the shell. This small hole will allow oxygen to flow into the egg and fill their lungs. This stage of hatching is called “pipping.”

The parents know that pipping is imminent when they hear the chicks vocalizing from inside the eggs.

The chicks also are developing a large muscle in the back of their necks, called a pipping muscle, which gives them the strength to chip their way out. Usually, hatching begins about 48 hours after pipping. The chicks will punch a dime-sized hole in the shell and then use their egg tooth to cut the top off the shell. A few days later, the chick’s egg tooth will fall off and the pipping muscle will disappear.

Week 8

Hatching …

The yolk inside the egg, which nourished the embryos during incubation, was absorbed into the body cavity of the chicks immediately prior to hatching. The yolk kept them well-nourished for a couple of days, nevertheless the chicks’ begging instinct kicked in right away.

From our experience of successfully raising thousands of falcons in captivity in the last 40 years, we know that a begging chick is not always a hungry chick. The adult birds know exactly how much food each chick requires. As effective as The Peregrine Fund is at feeding chicks, we know we can never do it as well as the natural parents.

Week 9

The rate at which these birds will grow during the 30-day period from hatching to fledging never fails to impress. Chicks weigh a mere 1½ ounces (40 grams) when they emerge from their shells, yet they will be full grown, ready to fly, when they leave the nest.

Male kestrels will grow up to be smaller than females, weighing about 21 ounces (600 grams) at fledging. Females will weigh about 35 ounces (1,000 grams). The males’ small size means they will develop faster and often leave the nest sooner than their bigger sisters.

Week 10

The chicks are growing like weeds and are now able to keep themselves warm for most of the day. They also can hobble around the nestbox and flap their wings to begin strengthening their flight muscles. If you look closely, it is even possible to see the first hints of adult feathers when the nestlings stretch out their wings. With growth like this, no wonder they are keeping their parents busy bringing home food!

Week 11

The nestlings’ new feathers are now clearly visible underneath their down and they are spending a fair amount of time "preening," or grooming. This behavior will continue throughout their lives, because birds take meticulous care to keep their feathers in good flying condition. The next time you see a bird preening, watch closely: feather barbs that have separated in flight will "zip" back together when a bird runs its beak down the length of the shaft. Preening birds also rub their beaks on a special gland at the base of the tail, which spreads oil adapted to keep feathers clean, moist, and flexible.

Preening is also necessary for the nestlings' current stage of feather development. Feathers emerge from the skin protected by a thin layer of the same keratinous material which makes up the shaft (these new feathers look pointy—hence their name, "pin feathers"). As chicks preen, they pull off the temporary casings to free their emerging adult feather.

Week 12

Adult feathers have now grown in to the point where the number of male and female offspring can be counted: XX males, XX females. At this age, it is easier to look at the birds’ backs than their tails for clues, so remember that males will be more colorful than females and show fewer dark stripes.

Perhaps you have noticed the nestlings’ behavior of projectile defecating up onto the walls of the nestbox. The result is more than a coat of whitewash. By shooting their feces up out of the way, nestlings keep themselves and their bedding surprisingly clean.

In fact, while the nestbox does get a bit ripe if judged by human sensibilities, it is a well-suited nursery for young kestrels. Leftover prey remains are cleaned up by decomposer tenants called dermestid beetles. It may even be possible that uric acid (the white stuff) in accumulated kestrel feces serves as a disinfectant.

Is it actually beneficial to let the kestrel poo accumulate? This is what naturally happens in tree cavities, so are we actually doing kestrels a disservice by cleaning their boxes from year to year? We can find out! By comparing nestboxes that are cleaned each year and nestboxes that are not, this is one question that the American Kestrel Partnership is setting out to answer.

Week 13

The kestrel nestlings have grown to their full adult size and are ready to leave the nest. Our chicks are nearly at this mark, so their parents now rarely enter the box, preferring instead to toss whole prey to their hungry offspring. This isn’t laziness, but an important behavioral adaptation: the act of ripping meat forces nestlings to exercise muscles that they will soon need for flight.

The stakes are high. Imagine for a moment that the first time you rose and took your first shaky steps there was no one to catch you, plus you had the immediate task of evading predators. This scenario seems inconceivable for humans, a species that matures slowly and with parental protection, but for kestrels fledging it is a routine event. They are already preparing! Over the next few days you will notice the nestlings flapping their wings for exercise and observing the outside world from the nestbox entrance.

Week 14

Fledging! Details …

Fedglings rely on food delivered by their parents for a couple of weeks even after leaving the nest, and will often roost inside the nestbox at night. This period of dependency is important, as the young kestrels must now learn to hunt on their own. When they leave the nestbox they are shaky flyers, engaging in what biologists call a “flutter glide” from tree to tree to explore and test their wings. As they learn to hunt, we will observe the kestrels mastering more advanced styles of flight that involve steady soaring and heavier wing beats.

You will also notice that the fledglings’ feathers haven’t finished growing when they first start to fly (this is particularly obvious with the tail feathers, which are shorter than the adults’ tails. Soon, however, certain flight feathers will be slightly longer than those of an adult. Think of this first set of feathers as avian training wheels: experts theorize that the longer feathers can help compensate for young birds’ weak muscles and developing flight skills. With their first molt, kestrels will lose these “training” feathers and grow in a fresh set of adult plumage.

Week 15

Season wrap-up…

 

Delorahilleary's picture

[2014 Updates]

 

1/2/2015:

As a male kestrel has been spotted using the nest box to sleep in this winter, we decided to make the Kestrelcam live again! The camera now takes a picture and uploads it every 10 minutes above. Who knows what you may spot using the nextbox as shelter? So far, we've seen a kestrel male and a Northern Flicker roost consistently in there.

 

6/25/2014:

The last two females have fledged, and with that all four of the chicks are now flying free in the world. Many may now wonder what a kestrel fledgling’s journey make look like once they are out of the box.

When a kestrel fledges, they begin to master the art of flight. They are not proficient at first, and will often bungle landings on their first few days out of the box. As they gain flight skills, they will also begin to chase prey in their first hunting attempts.

During this period, the parents will follow their offspring around and continue to care for them – feeding them when they are unable to hunt, protecting them from potential predators, and otherwise keeping an eye on them as they figure themselves out. Thus, kestrel adults are very attentive parents until a kestrel fledgling manages to become independent on its own.

The kestrel fledglings and their parents will likely continue to hang about in the general area of the nest box for a while, and they may even use the box as a secure place to roost in at night. Photos of the fledging are posted here! [http://hub.peregrinefund.org/node/204]

6/24/2014:

Around 11:30am, the male kestrel chick made the leap and fledged! His first flight was far from graceful, but he successfully landed in a nearby tree.

 

The female fledgeling from yesterday is proving to be an adept flier - she has been returning to and from the nest box to sleep and rest. While the male fledgling picked his way through the branches, the little female stayed close to her mother in a nearby pine tree.

6/23/2014:

Early in the morning, one of the three female kestrel chicks popped out of the box and fledged! The other three can make the jump at any time - keep an eye out to see if you can catch this momentous event!

6/18/2014:

As many have noticed, the youngest chick in the KestrelCam box died last night. Although we’re sad to lose a nestling, it is not uncommon for the youngest chick in a brood to die before fledging. Check out this post on our website for details on what happened to the chick and the struggle for kestrel parents to feed their young.

5/30/2014:

New video published: On the evening of April 1st, 2014 - A female kestrel entered the box and found it already occupied by a starling! The resulting epic showdown was captured by our camera. Watch the video athttp://kestrel.peregrinefund.org/kestrel-v-starling

5/27/2014:

The last of the kestrel eggs hatched sometime this morning, and now we have five fuzzy white kestrel nestlings in the KestrelCam box! The female broods newborn nestlings much of the time, as they are unable to regulate their own body temperature just yet. However, you can catch good looks at the new babies during feeding times!

kestrels hatchingKestrels began hatching sometime during

the night of May 24/25.

5/25/2014:

The first two kestrel chicks hatched last night, and the third arrived just before 10:00 a.m. this morning.

5/16/2014:

Livestream had a power outage earlier today, and all live streaming has been offline since. You can keep up to date with their progress on repairing the problem at http://status.livestream.com/incidents/t0w97dzjlxvf . Once they get their systems back online, the KestrelCams will start streaming live.

4/23/2014:

Welcome to the 2014 season of the Kestrel Cam, featuring a pair of American Kestrels that have settled in a nest box at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

After spending several days sleeping in the nest box, our female kestrel delivered a little Easter weekend surprise! She laid her first egg on Saturday, April 19 and her second egg on Monday, April 21.

During the egg laying period, the parents will often not sit and incubate initial eggs. This is typical behavior and does not harm the eggs. Once all eggs are laid, the female will begin to incubate the eggs full-time.

American Kestrels typically lay one egg every two days, so look for up to three more in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled in case you get to witness the new arrivals!

If you enjoy watching the KestrelCam, please support our work by making adonation or becoming a member. And don't forget to contribute as a citizen scientist by becoming a Partner and logging your observations of kestrel behavior. These data are used for important research by the American Kestrel Partnership -- and you can be part of it!

 

Delorahilleary's picture

[2015 updates]

6/13/2015

Early this morning, around 7am, the remaining male chick made his first flight! This means that all five KestrelCam chicks are fledged!

The youngsters are still in the area, practicing flight and hunting under the watchful eye of their parents. They may even return to the nestbox for sleeping or resting. Thus, we will leave the Cams up so that you may spot the action!

 

6/10/2015

We can confirm that one of the chicks, a male, fledged successfully! He made the trip out at 6:54am. A Peregrine Fund employee spotted him on top of the pine trees enarby - which means he successfully got off the ground as well!

When will the other four decide to take the leap? We won't know unless we watch!

 

6/9/2015

The KestrelCam chicks are now a month old as of today, and thus they could fledge at any time! Fledging is the word used for when a chick attempts its first flight from the nest. Until fledgling occurs, enjoy your last bit of the KestrelCam!

Once a chick fledges, it is not abandoned! Birds of prey continue to feed and protect their fledglings while they practice hunting and flying. Fledglings leave their parents behind on their own, once they are able to fend for themselves.

Thus, while we won't be able to follow it on livestream, the job of an American Kestrel parent is far from over.

 

6/4/2015:

We can now confirm that we have three males, and two female nestlings in the nestbox this year! All five chicks look healthy so far, and they could begin fledging in a week or so!

 

Before fledging occurs, our scientists, in partnership with scientists from Boise State University, will be banding the nestlings this Thursday, June 4. The Bosch KestrelCam will be turned off until 11 a.m. while the researchers carefully collect the five chicks from the nest box. The chicks will also receive a brief exam to ensure their health and then be swiftly returned to the nest box. The parents typically are agitated by the removal of their chicks for the short time-period, but quickly return to normal routines of providing insects and rodents for the young.

 

Edit: The banding went successfully, and the cameras are now live once more! The male nestlings weigh about the same as each other, and one female weighs the same as the other female. So, this means that all five nestlings are doing well, and all are healthy!

 

5/13/2015:

Sometime over the night, the last egg hatched! The fifth chick was dry by the time it was spotted this morning. This means that all five chicks are a similar age - all hatched within a day of each other!

 

5/12/2015:

Yesterday throughout the day, on 5/11/2015, we began to hear soft peeping sounds from within the shells. Late in the evening, "pips," or small holes, appeared in the shells! With those signs, we knew that hatching was imminent.

 

Indeed, early this morning, we woke up to find THREE newly-hatched nestlings being fed by the kestrel mother! That means only two eggs are left to hatch.

 

When nestlings are young, they are unable to thermoregulate themselves effectively, so the female or male kestrel will stay with them to brood them with their body heat. However, you will be able to clearly hear when it's feeding time - young kestrels will peep loudly to draw attention to themselves for food!

 

EDIT 11:30am: A new, wet chick just arrived! That makes four nestlings!

4/15/2015:

The fifth egg arrived right on queue around 7pm! Now, assuming she does not lay another egg, the female will be spending most of her time incubating the eggs with her body heat. The female of an American Kestrel pair typically does most of the incubation, while the male hunts and feeds his mate. The male will also take turns incubating, so that the female can stretch her wings and keep in top hunting form. Incubation usually lasts about 27-31 days, so the clutch will likely begin hatching around May 15th!

 

4/13/2015:

The fourth egg appeared on April 13th, around 7pm. This could mean that she is almost finished laying, if she is not finished already! If she lays another egg, it will likely appear sometime on the 15th.

4/11/2015:

The third egg was spotted on April 11th, around 8pm! It is normal for American Kestrels to lay 4-5 eggs in a clutch.  Occasionally, kestrels may lay less than that, and rarely they can lay six or seven! Such cases have only been documented a few times, however. The previous two clutches of this particular nestbox have been five eggs per year.

 

4/9/2015:

The female laid her second egg on April 9th, around 6:35pm! You may notice that she does not yet spend all her time incubating the eggs. Incubation begins in earnest once she is finished laying - until then, the eggs will be fine when left alone for a while.

 


 

4/8/2015:

Hello and welcome to the 2015 Bosch KestrelCams Season! We are excited to bring you another year of an intimate look into an American Kestrel pair’s life while raising young. Like last year, the stream will be in HD. We also have a new addition this year - sound! We replaced the broken microphone and now you should be able to clearly hear the kestrels as they go about their day.


The female laid her first egg on April 7th, around 8pm, and American kestrels typically lay one egg every other day. So, keep a close eye out - you may be the first person to spot the second egg!

 

For technical help with the KestrelCams or website, please click here.

3/2/2015:

It looks like the nesting season for American Kestrels in Boise, Idaho may be starting up a bit early this year! We have been seeing both a male and female kestrel digging a small indentation, or a "scrape," since early last week. This could mean that the first egg this year could come any day now! For comparison, the first egg of last year was laid on April 19th.

 

The camera is still uploading one screenshot every 10 minutes, but we will be going live as soon as that first egg is laid. We hope you are as excited as we are!

 

1/2/2015:

As a male kestrel has been spotted using the nest box to sleep in this winter, we decided to make the kestrelcam live again!  The camera now takes a picture and uploads it every 10 minutes above.  Who knows what you may spot using the nextbox as shelter? So far, we've seen a kestrel male and a Northern Flicker roost consistantly in there.

 

Delorahilleary's picture

[2016 Updates]

5/23/2016 10:40:

All five KestrelCam nestlings are now banded! A professional biologist from Boise State University came up to do the banding while the AKP staff assisted. All five chicks were alert and healthy with a good fat amount on their bodies, and a couple even had excess food in their crops! The chicks are 26 days old, so they will be ready to fledge and take their first flights within a week. The silver ID band will identify each of them as individuals for the rest of their lives, so if they are caught again by biologists, we'll know where they went and how their health changed over time.

 

Feel free to ask any additional questions in our KestrelCam discussion thread!

 

5/23/2016 09:00:

The cameras will be down briefly while we band the five chicks! Stay tuned for more updates!

 

5/2/2016 08:25:

The inside camera will be offline briefly for a system reset and refocus.

 


 

4/28/2016:

The fifth chick hatched around 4:50pm! Now we have a full batch of five nestlings. The remnants of the egg yolk is absorbed into the nestling's body cavity directly prior to hatching, so for the first few days, the nestlings are feeding off of nutrients from that egg yolk stash in their bellies. The adult kestrels still feed the newborns, as it gets their systems working and provides a valuable boost!

 

Did you miss the first glimpse of the newly-hatched chicks? We made some videos!

Click here to watch the first sighting of the first hatchling!

Click here to watch the first sighting of the second and third hatchlings!

Click here to watch the first sighting of the fourth hatchling!

 

4/27/2016:

 

2:15pm UPDATE: The fourth chick arrived! It hatched during a feeding session. Only one egg left to hatch!

 

1pm UPDATE: The second and third egg hatched! Two new nestlings were revealed at 12:50pm when the female moved. Only two eggs left to go!

 

At around 7:30am, the first nestling emerged from its egg! While the female was off the eggs, two of the other eggs appear to be "pipped." Pipping means that the nestling inside made a small breathing hole in the shell, which means a full hatching is imminent. The other four eggs could hatch at any time, so stay tuned for news!

 

American Kestrels, like many birds, use a special knob on the top of their beak called an "egg tooth" to break out of the shell. This egg tooth gets smaller and dissappears after the first couple days of life.

 

Check out this video of the new nestling's very first feeding!

 

 

 


 

04/25/2016:

The eggs could hatch at any moment now! In preparation for hatching, we zoomed in and refocused the camera to get a closer look at the tiny white fuzzball babies when they appear. Let us know what you think, and keep an eye out with us while the hatch time is imminent!

 


 

04/07/2016:

Some folks noticed the wooden object in the nest box next to the incubating adults - worry not, it is nothing harmful! During the winter, we had the issue of Northern Flickers pecking at the microphone installed in the roof of the nest box. So, with the new nest box, we covered the microphone with a little piece of wood using velcro to protect it. It seems the velcro gave out, or got knocked off, and the little wood bit fell down. It is unlikely to bother the kestrels, so we will leave it be. No need to stress out the kestrels if we don't have to!

The writing on it says "woodpecker baffle" on it in pen.

 

Edit: Noticing that both of the adults were not in the nest box, we used that opportunity to just sneak up really quick and go grab the wood piece. We were super quick and we got back down without the adult kestrels even noticing. Success!

 

04/01/2016:

 

The female now has five eggs in the nest, and unless this is a rare instance of a kestrel laying six eggs, it is likely that full-time incubation will now begin. Among American Kestrels, females do the majority of the incubation, while the male spends most of his time hunting. They will swap occasionally, however, as the male will takeover incubation duties so the female can eat and spread her wings.

 

Both sexes don't have feathers covering their bellies, so the eggs are directly in contact with their warm skin. Surrounding feathers fold around the eggs to insulate from any cold, and also those same feathers hide the adult's naked bellies from view when they are off the nest. Incubation for kestrels typically lasts from 28-31 days - tell us in the forums if you have any bets on when the first egg hatches!

 

Both cameras are up and running now!

 

03/28/2016:

 

Hello and welcome to the 2016 KestrelCam season! We are pleased to be hosting this view into a kestrel's nesting world once again. If you notice technical issues with streaming, please use the contact staff form to get quick contact with our website admin.

 

The male and female in the nest box are not banded this year, and this year's male has far less black spotting on his plumage than last year's. Right now, the female is in the egg-laying stage. It is normal for American Kestrels to lay one egg every other day, and the average clutch size is 4-5 eggs.

 

The first egg was spotted in the morning on March 23rd. The second made an appearance on Friday, March 25th. Last night, the third egg appeared on Easter Sunday - our own little Easter egg hunt! Keep an eye out to catch that fourth one tonight or on Tuesday.

 

Many folks worry about eggs left unattended during the egg-laying period. American Kestrels typically do not start fully incubating their clutch until all eggs are laid, which helps the nestlings hatch closer to the same time. Unattended eggs at this stage are not in danger of perishing. Feel free to ask or discuss other questions in the forums from the link above!

 

 

Add a comment

Log in or register to post comments

Posted in General Discussion by Delorahilleary 4 weeks 17 hours ago.

 

accipiter