Video: Chicks being removed from nest box by female

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earthbourne's picture
Video: Chicks being removed from nest box by female

WARNING: This is difficult to watch! :-(

Our 3 chicks were killed by excessive heat during an unprecedented heat wave in the PNW. The next morning, the female removed the dead chicks. Video clips were taken with a trail cam.

Here's a link to the compiled video clips.

AKP-Matthew's picture

Such a shame—thank you for sharing. It's interesting to note that there's around a half-hour gap after the female removes each nestling before she returns for the next. We have to wonder what she was doing in the meantime. Taking the nestlings very far from the box? Struggling to carry them a short distance because of their size, and then needing to rest? Or was there some other reason? We'll never know.

We certainly hope this situation never happens again, but for future reference, it's best not to clean a box if there are still adult birds around even if a nest fails. While the timing may be completely conicidental, from your description in the video it sounds like the cleaning may have played a direct role in the female leaving the area when she did rather than staying and attempting again the same box.

Thank you again for sharing, and for your participation in the American Kestrel Partnership. It's sad to say that this is likely not the last time a similar situation will occur, and finding ways to mitigate the impact of rising temperatures will likely be a necessary step in protecting this species.

AKP Staff

krchap's picture

Wow, I'm so sorry.  It looks like you even tried to protect them from the heat with styrofoam.  How heartbreaking for you. We experienced a similar heat wave in Colorado around the same time, but temperatures only reached 100 degrees.  I can't imagine 115 degrees.  We have a camera on our nest, so I could see how hot the chicks were and it stressed me out so much.  Normally the chicks all lie together in a pile, but ours were sprawled out individually, trying to stay cool. We ended up creating a sun shade out of cardboard and I do think it helped keep the box cooler.  Unfortunately I think hotter nesting seasons are going to be the norm.