American Kestrels

Location: Wisconsin

Camera Host: Raptor Resource Project

May 23, 2019

Egg #5 Hatches On Wisconsin Kestrel Cam!

Enjoy these highlights as the fifth and final American Kestrel chick hatches from its egg! Watch the female assist her hatchling out of the egg before she nibbles down some eggshell. Moments later, the fifth chick is already begging for its first meal! 

May 23, 2019

Early Meal For Four Hungry Kestrel Chicks

After the female zips into the nest box with a prey item to feed her chicks, she has a short conversation with her mate, who stops by the nest box entrance. 

May 22, 2019

Four American Kestrel Chicks Hatch!

The parents on the Wisconsin Kestrel cam have their talons full now that four of their five eggs have hatched! On day 33 of incubation, the first chick was revealed at around 4:40 PM nest time on May 21 before a second chick hatched later in the evening. On the morning of May 22, the adults welcomed two more hungry hatchlings fresh out of the shell. Thanks to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project for helping to share this look inside the lives of North America's littlest falcon! 

May 23, 2019

Early Meal For Four Hungry Kestrel Chicks

After the female zips into the nest box with a prey item to feed her chicks, she has a short conversation with her mate, who stops by the nest box entrance. 

May 22, 2019

Female Kestrel Rises To Feed Four Hatchlings

Watch the female American Kestrel rise from her nest to feed four hatchlings. These young falcons will be ready to fledge in four weeks time, meaning the parents will be focused on providing constant care and food during the quick nestling period! 

May 22, 2019

Pile Of Fluffy Kestrel Chicks Fed By Female

At less than 24 hours out of the shell, the kestrel chicks now have dry, downy feathers and are ready to eat! 

May 23

Egg #5 Hatches On Wisconsin Kestrel Cam!

Enjoy these highlights as the fifth and final American Kestrel chick hatches from its egg! Watch the female assist her hatchling out of the egg before she nibbles down some eggshell. Moments later, the fifth chick is already begging for its first meal! 

May 22

Four American Kestrel Chicks Hatch!

The parents on the Wisconsin Kestrel cam have their talons full now that four of their five eggs have hatched! On day 33 of incubation, the first chick was revealed at around 4:40 PM nest time on May 21 before a second chick hatched later in the evening. On the morning of May 22, the adults welcomed two more hungry hatchlings fresh out of the shell. Thanks to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project for helping to share this look inside the lives of North America's littlest falcon! 

April 26

Five Eggs For The Wisconsin Kestrels!

And then there were five! The female uncovers the pair's fifth egg after she follows the male outside of the nest box. Minutes later the male returns to settle over the clutch. American Kestrels typically lay a maximum of five eggs per breeding attempt. The events of the next few days will uncover whether the egg-laying period is over for this pair.  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.