American Kestrels

Location: Wisconsin

Camera Host: Raptor Resource Project

July 15, 2019

Curtains Close On 2019 Wisconsin Kestrel Cam Season

That’s a wrap! Now that the kestrels have dispersed out of view, the Wisconsin Kestrel cam will be shutting down for the season on July 16. A hearty thank you to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project and to everyone who watched and learned along with us during another amazing season. Now at three weeks post-fledge, the fledglings have reached the stage where they'll begin to hunt for themselves and cease begging for food. Good luck to the kestrels as they learn to survive as independent young falcons! 

June 24, 2019

Three Little Birds! American Kestrel Fledglings Share A Branch

Three of the American Kestrel fledglings share a branch as they preen and stretch. Siblings will often perch close together, usually within a few meters, for the first two weeks after fledging. After this period, they may begin to associate with other kestrels, often forming small groups with non-related juveniles.  

June 23, 2019

Last Two Kestrel Chicks Fledge, Leaving An Empty Nest Box!

We've got that empty feeling now that the last two American Kestrel chicks have fledged! Watch their first flights (the female fledged on June 22, and the male fledged on June 23), and don't forget to check out the Wisconsin Kestrel outside cam to catch the chicks exploring the surrounding grasslands. Thanks to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project for helping us share the lives of these feisty little falcons over the breeding season. Good luck to all of the fledglings! More...

June 24, 2019

Three Little Birds! American Kestrel Fledglings Share A Branch

Three of the American Kestrel fledglings share a branch as they preen and stretch. Siblings will often perch close together, usually within a few meters, for the first two weeks after fledging. After this period, they may begin to associate with other kestrels, often forming small groups with non-related juveniles.  

June 20, 2019

Kestrel Chicks Practice Clinging To Nest Box Walls

The American Kestrel chicks are getting a feel for their wings and talons! Watch two of the chicks practice fluttering and clinging to the side of the nest box. We have a feeling these walls won't contain them for long! 

June 19, 2019

Fledge Watch! Male Kestrel Chick Gets Vocal, Flaps Wings

Someone's getting antsy in the nest box! Watch one of the male chicks vocalize at the nest box entrance before dismounting for a bout of "wingercizing" in front of his siblings. June 19 marks day 29 post hatch for the two eldest siblings. American Kestrels typically fledge at day 28–31 of the nestling period.  

July 15

Curtains Close On 2019 Wisconsin Kestrel Cam Season

That’s a wrap! Now that the kestrels have dispersed out of view, the Wisconsin Kestrel cam will be shutting down for the season on July 16. A hearty thank you to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project and to everyone who watched and learned along with us during another amazing season. Now at three weeks post-fledge, the fledglings have reached the stage where they'll begin to hunt for themselves and cease begging for food. Good luck to the kestrels as they learn to survive as independent young falcons! 

June 23

Last Two Kestrel Chicks Fledge, Leaving An Empty Nest Box!

We've got that empty feeling now that the last two American Kestrel chicks have fledged! Watch their first flights (the female fledged on June 22, and the male fledged on June 23), and don't forget to check out the Wisconsin Kestrel outside cam to catch the chicks exploring the surrounding grasslands. Thanks to our partners at the Raptor Resource Project for helping us share the lives of these feisty little falcons over the breeding season. Good luck to all of the fledglings! More...

June 21

Second Kestrel Chick Lets Sibling Know It's Time She Fledges!

The second kestrel chick fledged from the nest box this morning! This female just couldn't wait to take her first flight. Watch her pester her sister to give up her spot at the nest box entrance before taking wing without hesitation at 1:48. One female and one male chick remain! 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.