Here is one example illustrating how your nestbox data, whether from one box or 100, can help researchers understand how land management can benefit nesting kestrels.
This map of south Boise, Idaho, has blue icons representing kestrel nestboxes around The Peregrine Fund’s property, which is largely grassland and sagebrush, and orange icons representing nestboxes in areas with mostly suburban and agricultural development.
1) Which group of nestboxes would have a higher % of occupancy by breeding kestrels? Perhaps the blue group, because kestrels might perceive rural areas as higher quality habitat. Alternatively, the orange group might have higher occupancy because kestrels might hone in on the high densities of small rodent prey in developed areas.
2) If the density of small rodents is higher in developed areas, then is nestling survival also greater because of abundant food? Or is nestling survival diminished because of exposure to rodenticides or disease?
These are just a few hypothetical questions, of many, and we don’t know the answers — with your help, we can develop a better understanding of kestrel ecology and enjoy the striking color and fiesty personality of North America’s smallest falcon for many generations to come.
The Partnership is developing and coordinating a Western Hemispheric network of locally managed nestbox monitoring programs to generate kestrel nesting data at unprecedented spatial scales, including data on phenology (seasonal timing of nest initiation), occupancy (% of nestboxes occupied by kestrels), productivity (number of nestlings in the nest), and survival (number of nestlings fledged from the nest). These important measures of nesting performance are then related to environmental factors, such as land use/landscape composition, climate variation, soil condition, and environmental contaminants. Understanding these relationships will paint a more complete picture of the American Kestrel’s life history and provide information to support conservation of kestrel habitat and populations.