Wild Bird Club banner

American Kestrels

Location: Boise, Idaho

Camera Host: The Peregrine Fund

Find more about Weather in Boise, ID

July 08, 2013

2013 Kestrel Cam Highlights

2013 was another great Kestrel Cam season, with the parents successfully fledging four chicks. The fledglings have been spotted by staff at The American Kestrel Project, and we wish them well as they begin their journey of surviving in the wild. More...

June 28, 2013

Last Kestrel Has Fledged

After spending her first night alone in the nestbox, the female kestrel nestling took to the air for her first flight this morning.  More...

June 27, 2013

Watch the Male Kestrels Fledge!

The first three American Kestrel chicks, all males, fledge from the nestbox on the library at The World Center for Birds of Prey. More...

June 28, 2013

Last Kestrel Has Fledged

After spending her first night alone in the nestbox, the female kestrel nestling took to the air for her first flight this morning.  More...

June 27, 2013

Watch the Male Kestrels Fledge!

The first three American Kestrel chicks, all males, fledge from the nestbox on the library at The World Center for Birds of Prey. More...

June 19, 2013

Video of Kestrel Chicks Being Banded

Bill Heinrich, who has banded hundreds of Peregrine Falcons and other raptors in his long career with The Peregrine Fund, and Delora Hilleary, American Kestrel Partnership coordinator, band four kestrel chicks in our KestrelCam nest box at the World Center for Birds of Prey. At 3 weeks old, the chicks' legs are fully grown so an extremely lightweight aluminum band can be properly fitted. This painless procedure gives each bird an individual number for research on kestrel population declines. The nestlings were wary but relaxed and instantly became accustomed to the bands. More...

June 27

Male Kestrels Have Fledged!

During the morning of June 27, all of the male nestlings in the American Kestrel box on the campus of the Peregrine Fund fledged in flurry of activity. The newly flighted birds will likely return to the box off and on over the next couple weeks to roost or rest, but sightings will be few and far between. 

June 11

Smallest Kestrel Nestling Dies

Sadly, the smallest of the kestrel chicks has died, most likely due to starvation. To us humans, this is a hard event to watch, yet we must remember that the death of a nestling is not unusual in the wild. Read more at the American Kestrel Partnership More...

American Kestrel

Cavity

Nest Placement

American Kestrels nest in cavities, although they lack the ability to excavate their own. They rely on old woodpecker holes, natural tree hollows, rock crevices, and nooks in buildings and other human-built structures. The male searches for possible nest cavities. When he’s found suitable candidates, he shows them to the female, who makes the final choice. Typically, nest sites are in trees along wood edges or in the middle of open ground. American Kestrels take readily to nest boxes (see Backyard Tips).

Nest Description

American Kestrels do not use nesting materials. If the cavity floor is composed of loose material, the female hollows out a shallow depression there.

Clutch Size

4-5 eggs

Incubation Period

26-32 days

Nestling Period

28-31 days

Egg Description

White to yellowish or light reddish-brown, mottled with violet-magenta, gray, or brown.

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, with sparse white down over pinkish skin; eyes partially open by first or second day.

Insects

Food

American Kestrels eat mostly insects and other invertebrates, as well as small rodents and birds. Common foods include grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies; scorpions and spiders; butterflies and moths; voles, mice, shrews, bats, and small songbirds. American Kestrels also sometimes eat small snakes, lizards, and frogs. And some people have reported seeing American Kestrels take larger prey, including red squirrels and Northern Flickers.

Typical Voice

American Kestrels have a fairly limited set of calls, but the most common one is a loud, excited series of 3-6 klee! or killy! notes lasting just over a second. It’s distinctive and an excellent way to find these birds. You may also hear two other common calls: a long whine that can last 1–2 minutes, heard in birds that are courting or feeding fledglings, and a fast chitter, usually used by both sexes in friendly interactions.more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Kestrels

These American Kestrels are nesting in a nest box maintained by The Peregrine Fund at its international headquarters, the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

About the Nest

The nest box is surrounded by sage-scrub habitat. This desert ecosystem supports a wealth of small rodents, reptiles, and insects. The short vegetation provides ideal habitat for the kestrels. At night, the interior camera uses infrared light to see in the dark. This light is invisible to the kestrels, as it is to humans.

In 2011 and 2012, kestrels in this nest box fledged five young.

The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership

The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership is a research and conservation project founded in response to kestrel declines in many areas of North America. The causes of these declines are unclear. The project is an ambitious, continentwide research network that enlists the efforts of both professional and citizen scientists. For this extraordinary raptor, every effort counts. Please visit the American Kestrel Partnership website to join the team!

The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 by Dr. Tom Cade at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon due to DDT-produced eggshell thinning. The Peregrine Fund pioneered captive propagation techniques and released more than 4,500 young peregrines into the wild—culminating in their removal from the Endangered Species List in 1999. During and since, The Peregrine Fund we has been engaged in conservation efforts on behalf of 102 species in 65 countries worldwide, including the California Condor, the Aplomado Falcon, and now the American Kestrel.

Be a Better Birder Tutorial 4
Bird Festivals