Auxiliary Bands and Kestrels?

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AudubonRiverlands's picture
Auxiliary Bands and Kestrels?

Hi everyone,

We are wanting to learn more about the dispersal and fidelity of the young kestrels hatched out on our sanctuary each year. We have partners who are permitted to put on the USGS federal bands on the chicks each year, but for this project are looking to add auxiliary bands to the mix for easier resighting. I have been diving into some peer reviews to look into what others have done for such studies, but wanted to see if anyone here had any advice or suggestions. Specifically, I am currently looking for advice around the difference in plastic v. metal auxiliary bands for kestrels and if there are any limitations on the number of bands placed per leg? Right now considering the option of two auxiliary OR one federal one aux band on a single leg - nothing more, but know that some species don't handle such measures well.

More details about our boxes: Our sanctuary currently houses 10 kestrel boxes and is located just 40 minutes north of St Louis, MO. They have been installed for three years now, going on four. Our first two years we had two kestrel pairs use a box. This past year that was raised to three pairs. We have mainly had wide success with fledging of all eggs laid, with one of our pairs going as far as raising 6 chicks one year - big deal for us and them. Two of the nesting females have returned every year, that we have ID'd through their behavior, though to different boxes. We also have a Motus tower installed on our sanctuary, but currently don't have any plans on tagging birds at this time, though would love the opportunity in the future.

Helpful thoughts, suggestions, others to reach out to, or peer reviewed articles are much appreciated! 

Thanks in advance!

Tara Hohman (

AKP-Matthew's picture

Hi Tara -

We hope someone who's currently using auxiliary bands jumps into this thread directly, but if not, two teams using auxiliary markers are our friends & partners at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and the University of North Texas. Both have been fitting kestrels with federal metal bands on one leg and two-character alphanumeric leg bands on the other (see photo below, courtesy of Hawk Mountain's Mercy Melo) for several years now. You should be able to reach both teams through the links we've provided, but if not, email us at and we'll connect you directly. With their experience, they likely would be able to provide more expertise and direct you to more resources than we can.

We hope that helps!

AKP Staff