Monday, April 29, 2013

Up-close with Kestrels - 2013 KestrelCam

Eyelash Pit Viper
Female American Kestrel "Katy", an education bird at Mountsberg Raptor Centre
The American Kestrel one of the smallest falcons in the Americas; an attractive, colourful little raptor.  When I was younger, kestrels were a common sight, frequently seen perched on high wires in open areas near home.  Sadly, American Kestrels have been declining in North America for some time now, and now a kestrel sighting in southern Ontario is an infrequent occasion for me. They are also one of my all-time favourite birds!

American Kestrel Partnership
Last year, I spent a good deal of time watching the nesting process and development of a family of American Kestrels in a nest box in Boise, Idaho, at the World Center for Birds of Prey, the international headquarters for The Peregrine Fund.  The American Kestrel Partnership is a project launched by The Peregrine Fund in order to advance the conservation of this species.  This project uses professional and citizen scientists (you and me!) to study the breeding behaviours of this declining species.  This year, the KestrelCams are up and running again, with a high-quality infrared camera inside the nest box for 24-hour monitoring, and a Bosch AutoDome 800 Series Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera outside of the box to observe behaviour of food exchange, predator defense, and to watch the fledglings take their first flights.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology sponsors this program by providing ad-free live streaming.  

American Kestrel Nest Box
Male American Kestrel on top of monitored nest box, 2012 
Furthermore, there are many ways to be involved with this project.  You can easily submit your observations through the website, as events in and outside of the box are taking place!  You are also welcome to aide the project through means of donations, become a member, place a nest box on your property, and many other ways.  Please support American Kestrel research to further the conservation of this beautiful and important species!  View the nesting kestrels here!  

~ Jenn 

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