Materials for a single nest box are relatively inexpensive ($15-$20), but partners considering a more ambitious monitoring program with many nestboxes may be concerned by material costs. The American Kestrel Partnership is dedicated to ensuring that these costs are not prohibitive.
Fortunately, we have found through our experience that many businesses, organizations, and individuals are willing to donate or discount materials for a nestbox program. High school shop classes and scout troops, particularly those with scouts working toward advanced badges, are often eager to raise money for, construct, and even install nestboxes. Local home improvement centers, hardware stores, and lumberyards also will often donate materials for nestbox programs. We provide sponsorship letter templates for partner organizations and individuals to propose local support in their communities.
The placement of American Kestrel nest boxes is one of the most important things to think about, as it determines whether or not kestrels will want to use your nest box!
Ideal nest box placement should take the following into account:
-Habitat: Kestrels nest in open, grassy areas with no tree cover and great rodent/insect/reptile hunting areas.
-Height: At least 8 feet minimum is recommended, to prevent easy predation from mammals.
-Support: Dead trees, fence posts, or lone poles are great to attach nest boxes to.
-Direction: Kestrels prefer the hole of the box to face in the Southeast direction.
-Monitoring: Only place a nest box if you plan on monitoring it! Otherwise, it could just end up as a home for invasive species.
-Research: Check your local area for already-ongoing research - getting in contact with locals will ensure you aren't placing a nest box in an area that could disrupt established research programs! Contact us if you are unsure.
Check out the guide to kestrel biology and monitoring for more in-depth info.
Try out a nest box season without predator guards - with ideally-placed nest boxes, you should not typically notice an issue with losing eggs or nestlings to predators. However, in subsequent years, if you do have an issue, then go ahead and install guards to help! If you do so, be sure to update your nest box specs to reflect the changes.
Common predator guards include:
-A sheet of metal wrapping the pole (makes the surface slippery for snakes/mammals from the ground)
-Installing a metal support pole instead of wood (also makes the surface harder to climb)
-An extended entrance hole tube (makes it harder for mammals/birds to reach inside)
Note that a proper entrance hole diameter is the best defense, as it lets kestrels in but keeps larger predators out!