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Green Hills: New kestrel boxes!

October 5, 2016

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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This weekend Jim Moffett, Brett Gundy and I installed two kestrel boxes that Jim had made, using a post design that Jim developed.

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) belongs to the family of birds known as falcons, and is the smallest and most colorful American raptor. Kestrels will hunt small mammals as well as toads and lizards—they need to supplement their diets with these small mammals during the winter months when insects are not available. On occasion, they may take a small bird if the opportunity presents itself.

Kestrels build their nests in cavities—usually trees hollowed out by woodpeckers or other birds—but adapt well to man-made nest boxes. Though the most abundant falcon in North American, their numbers are in decline as nesting habitat is lost to development. So man-made boxes like these are important to the species’ breeding.

The boxes are held about 19′ above the meadow but can be brought down to the ground for cleaning and maintenance.

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Installing them in in the fall gives the kestrels plenty of time to check them out before next year’s breeding season.

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In this last photo below, the kestrel box is dwarfed in the distance by the power line tower, but the nesting box location in the newly-planted grasslands should make for great habitat for the birds.

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The kestrel boxes at Green Hills are just the two newest to be installed across our network of nature preserves. We also have successful (birds have successfully reared young in them) at Mariton, Stroud, Summerhill, and Gwynedd.

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