American Kestrels

Location: Wisconsin

Camera Host: Raptor Resource Project

April 19, 2019

Male Kestrel Delivers A Snake Snack To His Mate In The Nest Box

The male American Kestrel makes a pit stop to drop off a snake to his mate in the nest box. In addition to reptiles like this snake, kestrels hunt and eat all kinds of arthropods, small mammals, and small passerine birds.  

April 18, 2019

Male Kestrel Visits With Offering, But Female Not Interested

Not every gift is well received! Watch the male kestrel arrives with an offering of what looks like fur for the female. She does not accept, however, and he is quick to leave the nest box.  

April 18, 2019

Wisconsin Kestrel Cam Goes Live And Female Lays An Egg!

The Wisconsin Kestrels are back for a new season, and the female just laid the first egg this morning! Watch a pair of North America's tiniest falcons begin the breeding season in a brand new nest box thanks to our cam partners at the Raptor Resource Project. The new nest box's simplified design will allow viewers to see the kestrels enter and exit as well as provide better coverage of the nestlings as they tramp around. Also, don’t forget to toggle to the outside cam, where you can view the beautiful surroundings and watch the adults bring in prey. The female has just laid the pair’s first egg. Over the next while, you’ll be able to see the male delivering prey to his mate while she incubates. You also might notice the pair engage in bonding rituals, and if we’re lucky, the male will join his mate in the nest box at night. This first egg is right on time, as the female in the box typically starts laying in mid- to late-April. American Kestrels typically lay 4–5 eggs per clutch—laying one egg every other day—so we should expect a few more Easter eggs to arrive in the coming days. More...

April 19, 2019

Male Kestrel Delivers A Snake Snack To His Mate In The Nest Box

The male American Kestrel makes a pit stop to drop off a snake to his mate in the nest box. In addition to reptiles like this snake, kestrels hunt and eat all kinds of arthropods, small mammals, and small passerine birds.  

April 18, 2019

Male Kestrel Visits With Offering, But Female Not Interested

Not every gift is well received! Watch the male kestrel arrives with an offering of what looks like fur for the female. She does not accept, however, and he is quick to leave the nest box.  

April 18

Wisconsin Kestrel Cam Goes Live And Female Lays An Egg!

The Wisconsin Kestrels are back for a new season, and the female just laid the first egg this morning! Watch a pair of North America's tiniest falcons begin the breeding season in a brand new nest box thanks to our cam partners at the Raptor Resource Project. The new nest box's simplified design will allow viewers to see the kestrels enter and exit as well as provide better coverage of the nestlings as they tramp around. Also, don’t forget to toggle to the outside cam, where you can view the beautiful surroundings and watch the adults bring in prey. The female has just laid the pair’s first egg. Over the next while, you’ll be able to see the male delivering prey to his mate while she incubates. You also might notice the pair engage in bonding rituals, and if we’re lucky, the male will join his mate in the nest box at night. This first egg is right on time, as the female in the box typically starts laying in mid- to late-April. American Kestrels typically lay 4–5 eggs per clutch—laying one egg every other day—so we should expect a few more Easter eggs to arrive in the coming days. More...

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

28-28 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.

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

In general, the kestrels return to their box in February or March. Egg-laying begins in April or May, and eggs hatch roughly 26 to 32 days after they are laid. The young fledge between 28 and 31 days of age. Like peregrine falcons and bald eagles, American kestrel fledglings remain near the nest before dispersing in late summer. They eat invertebrates, small rodents, and birds including grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, spiders, butterflies and moths, voles, mice, shrews, small songbirds, small snakes, lizards, and frogs. Learn more about American Kestrels in our species guide.

About the Site

The kestrels are nesting on private property near Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. Their nest box, located on the side of a traditional limestone-footed barn, overlooks a rolling grassland that slopes away into the folded hills and forests of the driftless. A nearby stream cuts through deeply incised limestone to join the Mississippi river roughly four miles west of the nest. This wonderful combination of grassland, forest, and water has supported kestrels for over 25 years, and is an excellent example of the habitat that kestrels need to survive and thrive.

About the Host

Founded in 1988 by the late Bob Anderson, the non-profit Raptor Resource Project specializes in the preservation of falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks, and owls. They create, improve, and directly maintain over 50 nests and nest sites, provide training in nest site creation and management, and develop innovations in nest site management and viewing that bring people closer to the natural world. Their mission is to preserve and strengthen raptor populations, expand participation in raptor preservation, and help foster the next generation of preservationists.