Kestrels Win??

In January I mentioned that a northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) was checking out the nook in our hay shed where American kestrels (Falco sparverius) customarily nest. Perhaps this season the flickers would usurp the kestrels for that prime nesting site.

On a recent sunny afternoon, after about two months without any activity around the hay shed, I noticed a kestrel checking out the site. Male kestrels arrive first and find a nesting spot, which they then show to the female, who makes the final choice.

After that one sunny interlude, the snow and cold temperatures returned. Yesterday morning, a dark, gray day with lightly falling snow, we noticed a pair of kestrels sitting on the ridgepole of the barn. The nesting kestrels always use the ridgepole as a perch. Not a flicker was in sight. I do think the kestrels are again planning to raise their brood(s) in our hay shed this year. I am glad because I love watching the kestrel parents and fledglings all summer. Some years there is one brood and other years the kestrels raise two families.

Kestrels use cavities for their nests, but cannot excavate the holes themselves. Thus natural tree cavities, old woodpecker holes or nooks in human structures serve as nesting sites. Kestrels also readily use nest boxes. They do not employ nesting material, but rather lay their eggs on whatever surface is present. “Our” kestrels raise their family in the space between the double walls of the hay shed.

These pictures were taken of, I assume, the male kestrel checking out the nesting spot in the hay shed (Lookout CA) a few days ago. I hope to report on this kestrel and its mate raising a family over the summer.

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