Thursday, December 15, 2011

American Kestrels

Dino has been working on the beginnings of a project to set up and monitor nesting boxes for American Kestrels.  He came up with the idea after reading an article in the most recent issue of Birding magazine, published by the American Birding Association, about the population decline of these birds, and after attending two presentations by Steve Simmons, who is a master bird bander.  The data from the Audubon Society's raptor run were presented to Steve, who noticed that no kestrels were observed during nesting season in the grasslands.  That pointed out the necessity of taking action and providing nest boxes for the birds in the area.

In addition to banding the birds, Steve also has built thousands of nest boxes and monitored the nests over the course of many years.  He's done this not just for kestrels, but also for barn owls, western bluebirds and tree swallows. 

This last Monday, Steve and Dino paired up and visited several areas where kestrels have been spotted and counted during the local Audubon Society's raptor runs.  They captured a kestrel, and Steve banded that bird.  To capture the birds, Steve uses a mouse as bait - but don't worry, the mouse is not harmed.  Instead, the mouse is safely ensconced in a wire mesh trap to which have been attached a number of small nylon loops (think fishing line).  When the kestrel swoops down to grab the mouse, instead the bird becomes entangled in one of the loops. 

The loop is then carefully removed from the bird's foot and the band attached.

Dino says that in this picture he is grinning internally.


Tom Hurley said...

Do they bite?

Praying Horse said...

Dino answers: "Yes, if they can."

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