Box location

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Robert
Robert's picture
Box location

See attached photos...

I will be mounting the newly built box on the end of a through house beam that I purposely left extended (just finished our house build) for a variety of reasons; mounting a Kestrel Box not being one of them, but here I am. I understand this likely would not be a prime location choice, but I feel I have enough supporting reasons to give it a try.

Firstly, we have seen Kestrels on the property on several occassions over the 3 years we've been here. A few other 'fingers crossed' thoughts are, we are in the middle of 10 acres of heavily wooded forest with only 1 1/2 acres cleared surrounding the house. The surrounding area is a very rural mix of agriculture (primarily open fields of grasses and wheat. While there are cats, who will not be inside, but they have no access to the box mounted  17 ft above grade. Even a flying squirrel would find it near impossible. They cannot make the roof at any point, nor can they climb the side of the building. 

Questions;

Will the mere presense of the cats deter nesting? They didn't seem to mind the cats when visiting. I think 

While human activity is limited to only my wife and myself, there is no onsite noise from roadway, or industrial, etc, would this location be a bust being attached to the house? (above bedroom windows)

Box is facing south southeast. Will that be enough 'east'?

WIthout expectation, would there be a possibility of other species, and if so, who might move in? South central WA Simcoe Highlands just north of Columbia Plateau. No Starlings here, but loads of Crow, Raven, Red Tails, Eagles, Tanagers, and a full list of song birds. 

Note: Awaiting delivery nest cam with app access for all to see. Should be here in 4 days, then the final mount. I'll give it 2 to 3 years before moving it or???  

 

Image: 
matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

Hi Robert -

We have to agree with you that this doesn't sound like a prime location choice. American Kestrels aren't fans of wooded areas, and typical kestrel territories are considerably larger than the small cleared area around your house. We certainly can't guarantee anything—perhaps you'll attract a pair that won't mind a jaunt over the trees to get to the best hunting ground—but we could see the kestrels in your area opting to pass on your box and instead finding a natural cavity closer to the open fields you've described.

Additionally, while the cats won't necessarily deter kestrels from nesting, the mere presence of cats near a nest (whether or not they can actually reach it) is a known stressor that can cause increased rates of abandonment and nest failure. As a result, these boxes can actually decrease the local population by lowering local breeding success—the opposite effect from what is usually intended.

The southeast-facing direction of the box is actually ideal for American Kestrels, so no issues there. We wouldn't expect human activity inside the house to be an issue either, unless you're blasting war movies at full volume in your bedroom twelve hours a day. Other partners have mounted boxes on or very near their houses and successfully fledged kestrels.

As to your question about other potential tenants, kestrel boxes are typically too large for the tastes of most cavity-nesting songbirds other than starlings or wrens, though you may find yourself with a Northern Flicker nest, or perhaps a small owl species such as the Western Screech-owl, Flaummulated Owl, or Northern Saw-whet Owl (though all three of these species prefer boxes mounted on trees).

Bottom line: it would be worth a try placing the box where you've described, but don't be too surprised if it goes unused by kestrels, as it sounds like there are better habitat options for them nearby. If you DO get kestrels, it would be very important to monitor the box to make sure the cats (or another as-yet unknown stressor, such as a nearby hawk or owl nest) aren't causing a higher-than-normal nest failure rate.

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask us here or by reaching out to us directly at kestrelpartnership@peregrinefund.org.

Matthew
AKP Staff

Robert
Robert's picture

Hi Matthew,
Thank you for your response. Your information is very helpful, and appreciated. I will moved forward on this box as planned with the hope someone will make occupancy. I concur likely not a Kestrel though. I do have a far corner of the property bordering open fields that I am.planning to try as well. Monitoring it won't be as frequent as I might like, but nonetheless worth the effort. I'll begin reporting soon, I hope.
Again, thank you.

matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

Our pleasure, we're happy to help. The corner of your property bordering a field sounds much more promising kestrel-wise, so we'll be interested to hear whether you get a pair there in years to come. We look forward to whatever monitoring data you provide, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that you get some fun tenants in your new box.

Matthew
AKP Staff

Robert
Robert's picture

We'll give it a try. Box cam installed.

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accipiter