The overhead camera angle in the nest box gives viewers a good look at the beautiful markings of American Kestrels. Among the most striking are the ocelli (from Latin, “small eye”), which give the appearance of having eyes on the back of their heads. Between the ocelli is a black stripe (called a malar stripe) that resembles a beak. Scientists think the false eyes and beak fool predators into thinking they are being watched even when the kestrel is facing the opposite direction.
Kestrels also have malar stripes on the sides of their heads near their eyes. They may work for the same reason that athletes put black stripes under their eyes before a big game – to reduce glare and enhance their eyesight. Like all birds of prey, kestrels have amazing eyesight that enables them to spot a mouse or snake moving through the grass while soaring high overhead.
It has been two weeks since the female laid her first egg. She now has five and seems to be incubating them quite attentively.
If all is well, each embryo is developing quickly. Given an incubation period of about four weeks, we should expect eggs to start hatching around the end of May.
You might see the female or the male – he steps in from time to time – rotating the eggs. This practice is crucial to incubation for two reasons. Rotating ensures the eggs are warmed evenly and uiniformily. It also prevents the embryo from sticking to the egg's inner memberane, which can cause problems during hatching.
This is an exciting time for KestrelCam viewers but a tiring episode for our kestrel pair.
The female spends the majority of her day and night incubating the eggs. She laid her fourth egg yesterday. On average, kestrels lay 4-6 eggs in a nesting season; we might see 1-2 more in the next few days. She rarely leaves the box, and when she does, it is not for long. She eats the food that the male brings her, "preens" (grooms) her feathers, and returns to her eggs.
The male spends his day hunting and protecting the nest box. It is his duty to provide food for both himself and the female throughout the nesting period. Kestrels feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates, as well as small rodents and birds. When he catches something, he will often eat part of it then bring the rest back for the female. Keep an eye on the KestrelCam throughout the day, and you might see this exchange!
Welcome to the 2013 KestrelCams! We are excited to again reveal the fascinating world of nesting American Kestrels – with upgraded KestrelCams! The kestrels laid their first egg yesterday so stay tuned as the female lays three to four more over the next four to five days.
Bosch Security Systems USA is sponsoring the American Kestrel Partnership and generously donated a Bosch AutoDome 800 Series Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera. We can now reveal kestrel activities outside the box, such as adults exchanging prey and defending their nest from trespassers, and fledglings learning to fly, hunt, and survive in their dangerous new world. We are also grateful to our partners at Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bird Cams project for continuing to provide the KestrelCams with ad-free streaming
If you enjoy watching the KestrelCam, please support our work by making a donation or becoming a member. And don't forget to contribute as a citizen scientist by logging your observations of kestrel behavior and joining the Partnership to monitor your own kestrel box. These data are used for important research by the American Kestrel Partnership – and you can be part of it!
If you enjoy watching the Kestrel Cam, please support our work to recover threatened and endangered birds of prey. Your donation will:
Your tax-deductible donation will be used efficiently and effectively. We take pride in being a common-sense, elbow-grease, no-frills, hands-on group of dedicated professionals. We tackle only those projects for which we are the most qualified and where a definite need exists. And we always strive to leave a lasting result.
The interior camera uses infrared light to "see" in the dark and low lighting. The exterior camera also detects infrared light, hence the impression of a "lit" nestbox at night, but the light is invisible to kestrels and humans so the kestrels have a dark box for sleeping.
Females have alternating black and orange bars across their tail, back, and wing feathers, while males have blue wing feathers and only one thick black bar near the end of their tail feathers.
Check out the fantastic kestrel photos donated by our sponsoring professional photographers in our Kestrel Photo Gallery!
On average, the North American breeding population of American Kestrels has declined by an estimated 50% from 1966 to 2012 according to USGS Breeding Bird Survey data. However, population trends vary by geographic region, such as New England, where the population has declined by estimated 88%. Check out our Population Declines webpage to see the trend in your region.
Buying or building your own kestrel nesting box gives you the opportunity to enjoy the colorful and charismatic American Kestrel up close. It also allows you to contribute to two critical functions for kestrel conservation.
1) Installing kestrel boxes creates nesting habitat for this cavity-limited species (kestrels don't build nests and will not nest without a sufficient cavity!)
2) Monitoring kestrel boxes (counting eggs and nestlings during the nesting season) and entering data onto the Partnership website produces information critical for kestrel research and conservation planning.
Check out our American Kestrel illustrated life cycle!
Find technical information at The Peregrine Fund's Global Raptor Information Network!
Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds section on the American Kestrel!
Read this first! KestrelCams and nestcams: guidelines and configuration (PDF)
Ready to purchase a nestcam? Contact our sponsoring partner! Spy on a Bird LLC sells nestcams custom configured for nestboxes and gives 15% discounts to our partners!
Want to embed the KestrelCam feeds on your website? We encourage our partners to do so and the embedding codes can be accessed on Livestream's webpages:
Bringing the fascinating world of nesting American Kestrels to you with our KestrelCams is made possible by our partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bosch Security Systems. We thank Charles Eldermire, director of Cornell's Bird Cams, for providing the ad-free streaming service, and Willem Ryan, Steve Tangert, and Matt Thomas for the camera donations and technical expertise. We also thank Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project (and founder of the famous Decorah Bald Eagle cam!) for his early encouragement and technical expertise.