The kestrels have laid their first egg!
April 18. 2019: First kestrel egg!
After talking with Cornell, we made the decision to turn the kestrelcam back on this morning – just in time to see the kestrels lay their first egg! She will most likely lay four to five eggs, with one coming every other day. Full-time incubation probably won’t start until the second to last egg in the clutch – much like peregrine falcons. Hatch will start roughly 26 to 32 days after the eggs are laid and the young kestrels will fledge 28 to 31 days after that! You can watch the kestrels here:
The nest box looks different! Our new, more simplified design will give
better coverage of the kestrels and allow us to see them entering and exiting the nest
box. This should prove to be very exciting – especially around fledge time! We will
continue to provide a second camera with an outside view of the surroundings. Be sure
to check out the toggle feature on the stream to switch between the nest box cam and the outdoor PTZ cam.
What to watch for
The kestrels have started to nest! Here are some things you can look for:
- How many eggs will they lay? Kestrels usually lay an egg every other day, but eggs can be spaced one to three days apart.
- Who is incubating? Female kestrels take on most of the incubation duties, but males will also incubate, with the amount varying from individual to individual.
- Where is the male? Switch to the outdoor camera and see if you can find him perched near the nest.
- What are they eating? The male will bring food gifts for the female. See if you can identify them. The kestrels eat a wide variety of food, including invertebrates, small rodents, and birds including grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, spiders, butterflies and moths, voles, mice, shrews, small songbirds, small snakes, lizards, and frogs! Last year, it was not uncommon to see the male bring in rodents that looked almost as large as he was!
What to listen for
Sound provides a wonderful context to the kestrels’ seasonal and daily routines. Listen for:
- Pair bonding. That may be visible from the exterior PTZ camera and you may see the male fly up and rest on the back of the female while she is on the perch branch. They will vocalize as they brush their tails together and work to fertilize the eggs.
- ‘Honey, I’m here!’ Listen for the male’s whirring vocalization as he approaches the nest box with food.
- Other animals and birds. We’ve heard coyotes howling at night, songbirds that live near the barn, and Neil and Laura’s birds of prey. Listen and let us
know if you hear anything unique or unexpected!
Like peregrine falcons and bald eagles, American kestrel fledglings remain near the nest before dispersing in late summer. To learn more, please visit our partner Cornell Lab of Ornithology at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Kestrel/lifehistory.