Kestrel nest box 2.0

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Kestrel Friendly
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Kestrel nest box 2.0

My hubby decided to build a new nest box and installed it up the hill behind our house on a repurposed basketball hoop  pole.  We saw a kestrel pair today hanging out around the new box and our old box. We hope they decide to make themselves at home when it's time, especially in the new nest box. 
 

Shiela 

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matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

LOVE the design on the new box... and the news that the kestrels are back and scoping out your property again :) We'll keep our fingers crossed they decide to hang around!

Matthew
AKP Staff

Kestrel Friendly
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Thanks Matthew! We like it too! It seems the male kestrel likes the new box as well. 
 

Shiela 

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matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

Exciting stuff!! Looks like both a male and female have checked out the new box now - wonder if it's a couple that will call the box home this year?

We freely admit that we might be being paranoid here, but we have to ask about the "ladder" - is there enough space behind the rungs that a leg could get caught? We'd hate to see one of the youngsters slip trying to climb up to the opening and get stuck. Again, we could just be paranoid and don't have any solid evidence for the concern.

Side note: we LOVE that the opening of the box looks like a heart in the overhead view <3

Matthew
AKP Staff

Kestrel Friendly
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Hi Matthew! 
 

We hope they will make it their home! We did witness them do the dance 2x today. Is that a sign of approval? 
Is it too early? 

We asked Scott of CARRI about the rungs and he doesn't seem to be bothered by them.  
 

And yes, we love the heart door opening too. LOL!
 

Thanks. 
Tim & Shiela 

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matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

It's certainly not too early for them to have picked a box, and with the amount of time this pair seems to be spending at yours, we have to say we're very optimistic they've decided on yours! Is your original box getting any attention? Or are the two boxes close to each other, in which case you'd only have one set of kestrel residents?

Given Scott and CARRI's rehab experience, if he ain't worried about the rungs, we ain't either. We'll pop a Xanax and just get set for the oodles of cute nestling photos we hope are in your future :)

Matthew
AKP Staff

Kestrel Friendly
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Hi Matthew! 

So far, we haven't seen new activity in the old box but we also don't have a camera in it. The old box is closer to our house than the new one, so most likely well only have a pair.   But, for sure this pair is spending more time in the new box. Another male kestrel seemed interested in the new box as well but our new guy (we call him Rusty) is standing his ground. LOL. Is that normal kestrel behavior? The female (we call her Buffy) has been visiting the box on her own as well. We're trying to manage our expectations but our neighbors are getting excited too! 
 

We sure hope they will have a family here. 
 

Thanks. 
Shiela 

Image: 
matthewdanihel
matthewdanihel's picture

The territorial behavior you've described is quite typical. Kestrel pairs usually establish a territory of about two square miles, which they then defend from interlopers. We don't want to promise anything, but if your pair is defending your new box from other kestrels, that's a good sign they're planning to hang around for a little while :)

You probably won't have kestrel pairs in both boxes (we assume that's the old one visible in the second photo?), as the two are considerably closer together than the minimum half-mile of separation kestrel pairs typically require. That said, we hope you'll consider reporting data on the old box as well, as it would be interesting to see whether another bird species (European Starlings, for example) are comfortable moving in so close to the kestrels.

Loving the views from your camera array! Looks like you've got one inside in the box and a second outside? Buffy and Rusty are gonna be stars.

Matthew
AKP Staff

Rich Carpenter
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Oops. Tried to reply and it disappeared, so may be two similar replies.

I'm certainly not very kestrel knowledgeable, but they have nested in some of my wood duck boxes for about 30 years.

Not suggesting normal, and guess kestrel and wood ducks so different that not bad neighbors, but have had wood duck and kestrels repeatedly nesting in boxes less than 50 feet apart, and have had a kestrel in one side and a wood duck in other side of a back to back duplex wood duck nest box. Both successful.

Last year we had three metal wood duck boxes in an "L" configuration.  Nest at the bend and one at each leg of the "L."  Each leg was 100 feet.  A nest at either end of a short shallow pond dike, and 3rd one 100 ft down the shore.  All three had active kestrel nests overlapping in time, with 3 very differnt aged babies. And a sucessful wood duck box 125 feet in opposite direction.  For sure with 3 kestrel nests that close, I really didn't have to spend any time there doing starling patrol. ; )   Again, not suggesting normal, just what I observed.
Rich

matthewdanihel
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Hi Rich -

Thank you very much for sharing your insight! This definitely isn't what we're used to seeing from kestrels, and indicates you might have had particularly excellent habitat and/or prey availability at that location. It also would have been very interesting to have known the genetic makeup of these birds as well; e.g., whether the adults in some of these boxes were the prior year's offspring of the adults in other boxes, and whether there was some "spouse-swapping" going on where some of the nestlings in each box were the offspring of different pairings of adults.

We greatly appreciate you sharing our experience and letting us know what's possible! Birds never do read the field guide, of course :)

Matthew
AKP Staff

Rich Carpenter
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Matthew,  It's hard to say.  The 80 acres of river bottom with a spring creek that never freezes has an amazing variety of kinds of habitat for such a small area. And all my farming and bulldozer pond work is expense only, doing what I can to make better wildlife habitat.  : )   We;ve fenced the cows out, and do a variety of things to create "edge."   Sometimes the good work, works to my detriment. When I bought the place 35 years ago it was grazed to the ground and no wildlife except a few bobwhite and deer.  So little cover we knew where quail would be and set ourselves a limit of 6 quail for all of us together for entire season. Only shot the covey rise and never let the dogs hunt singes.  Now, a person can hunt their hardest and lucky to shoot 6 quail in a season, as now they have the habitat and upper hand with all the variety of cover.  : ) Other than the neighbor driving thru now and then and me and friend and his daughter that help me with boxes, there is very little disturbance.  I'm sure the numerous small food plots of several varieties and bare summer fallow areas next to them provide a wealth of rodents and open areas for raptors to catch them. And have closed canopy and open canopy forest areas.  It also supports several screech owls and horned owls, a marsh hawk pair a red tail hawk pair and a cooper's pair.Or at least they spend a lot of time there. Used to have a bald eagle nest across the fene until one of pair died and too much traffic on that property for a new mate to accept. So they moved 2 miles west.  

Like I say, I have little real knowledge of the kestrels, but find that they, the marsh hawk and redtail (and bald eagle when it was there), all completely abandon the area shortly after the young fledge.  I've always wondered if it was because by then the grocery shelves were bare and needed time to restock for next nesting season.

Beside the rodents and insects available, the kestrels feed the young something else I wasn't aware of.  The neighbor was working on his bow hunting tower blind and there was a natural cavity with nest of kestrels right next to it. As he was working, the pair was doing non-stop delivery of the very small lizards (Great Plains Skink, I think).  Lots of those around on the sandy parts of the land.

Fun to watch and seems to be a good neighborhood for lots of wildife, including a couple kinds of birds nesting there that don't belong in our area.  Looking forward to the kestrels returning as well as the wood ducks. Should start seeing both by end of month.

Again, I know little of kestrels, but wood duck baby females return to the area they were hatched.  Maybe it's the same sometimes  With top opening boxes, the hens never try to excape when spied on quietly.  Then about 20 years ago one nest had a hen that would flush often when I was setting up ladder and never got the lid open before she was gone. She nsted successfully, and must have been genetic as suddenly there were a few more flighty hens, and still have one now and then.  Intersting critters. 
Rich