General Discussion : Does banding disturb nesting adults?

I am helping a group that bands kestrels (adults when they can be caught and young before they fledge) in nest boxes.  I've heard that adults removed for banding when there are only 1-2 eggs may abandon the box, but when there are 4 or more eggs they are more likely to continue nesting.  Is there any information on this or does anyone have experience with this? 


Sarah Schulwitz's picture

Thanks so much for your inquiry, fantastic question and one that we get often. I'll point you to a study by Dr. John Smallwood that looks at a similar question. Briefly, Smallwood (in a study published in 2016) found that the time of disturbance (flushed or trapped by a researcher), whether during the egg laying stage or the incubation stage, did not affect nest abandonment or nest success for American Kestrels. Similarly, Megan Shave and Dr. Catherine Lindell (in a study published in 2017) found that whether they banded adults during incubation or brood rearing didn't affect nest survival. So, recent evidence suggests it doesn't matter when you band, but most people have been avoiding the egg laying stage, just to be safe. 

Please read Smallwood's abstract here or Shave and Lindell's here. You can also email to obtain a PDF of either study. 

NM-Kestrel-Laura's picture

Thanks for the path to these great articles! I'll continue to monitor with confidence. In addition, we are hoping to work this year with a raptor biologist in the local field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who is interested in DNA samples for a Boise colleague studying nesting AMKE. Maybe you know of or are directly involved in this project? --Laura H.

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