Showing posts from June, 2017

Spring Weather, Chick Banding and some Fledglings

A lot has been happening since my last post. Some good, some not so good. We've had a cool, wet spring here in the mid-Hudson Valley which can be the kiss of death for bird nesting. A few of our kestrel pairs have failed, either at the egg or nestling stage and I suspect this weather is at least partly to blame. By early June, we had 18 of 25 boxes where kestrel pairs were at least observed to have started a breeding attempt, but now the number of active pairs is down to 7. In addition to the less-than-ideal weather, starlings were a major cause of low kestrel occupancy. I will be thinking about re-siting some boxes next year to make them more appealing to kestrels.

One box had an interesting and dark story. The female laid 5 eggs and I did a hatching check and found three, 4-5 day old chicks and two eggs. Unhatched eggs...that happens. But when I returned a week later to get a better idea of chick age, the box was totally empty. Something had grabbed those chicks out of the 3-inc…


Kestrel eggs are hatching here in Ulster County. I inspected two boxes yesterday at the Shawangunk Grasslands and they had chicks between 4-8 days old. In the first one, all 5 eggs hatched, but there were still two eggs left in the second one along with 3 nestlings. It is likely those remaining 2 eggs will not hatch. Aging chicks between 4-9 days old is challenging because none of their flight or body feathers have emerged...they are all white fluff. How alert and mobile they are helps narrow the estimate to either end of that window. 
The following two videos are nest checks from yesterday. Excuse the poor video quality...this is a low-budget project. Looking forward to banding nestlings in a couple weeks and getting important feather samples for the American Kestrel Genoscape Project ( These folks just got big chunk of $$ to study birds and climate change. Important work. 

I had a mild surprise today during a box check. Surpr…