A screenshot of the old AKP website
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Looking for the website of the American Kestrel Partnership?
Don't worry, you're in the right place!

In the winter of 2023–2024, some significant changes to the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP) took place, with the AKP's former community science program merging with Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch. As a result, the AKP website is no longer active. The basic details:

  • Individuals looking for general information about kestrels are encouraged to visit The Peregrine Fund's American Kestrel Explore Species profile. Those looking for more specific information about kestrel boxes, such as construction blueprints and how/when/where to install boxes, should visit NestWatch's American Kestrel page.
  • Partners who submitted nest box monitoring data through our website should now do so through NestWatch instead. Learn how to participate in NestWatch here, and contact NestWatch staff with any questions.
  • The entire AKP database was merged into NestWatch's database. AKP partners can access all of their data that was originally entered through the AKP website through NestWatch; however, partners who have not done so already will need to contact the Nestwatch team to get their AKP data moved into the proper NestWatch account before it is accessible.
  • Partners should NOT re-enter any box record or observation data into NestWatch that was originally entered through the AKP website; this is unnecessary work for our partners, and will create duplicate data in the system that could result in problems during future data analysis. Contact the NestWatch team with any questions.
  • Signups for our Adopt-a-Box program have moved and are now located at peregrinefund.org/adopt-box.

Read on to learn more about this transition, why it occurred, and what this means for the future of the AKP!

Why did this happen?

It was long a goal for our team to improve the process of data entry for our partners, which had historically relied on observation-by-observation entry through our increasingly dated website. By 2023, the AKP website was over a decade old, and in the last few years, the site had begun to creak with age, as well as under the strain of the record project participation we’d had in the last few years (a very good problem to have!).

Meanwhile, Cornell Lab of Ornithology was likely well known to many of our partners as one of the world leaders in bird conservation and research. They are also one of the preeminent figures in conservation-related community science programs, running such well-established projects as the immensely popular eBird (used by birdwatchers to record their sightings), Project FeederWatch (where participants monitor overwintering birds at bird feeders), and NestWatch (where participants monitor bird nests or nest boxes for activity). Data from these programs is then made available to researchers, facilitating range-wide analysis.

This latter project was very similar to the AKP's community science program, and in the past, the AKP and NestWatch unintentionally but unavoidably competed for kestrel box monitors and their data. The Peregrine Fund has always strived to conduct the best science possible, and raptor conservation is best accomplished as a collaborative effort. Therefore, merging the AKP's kestrel nest box monitoring program into NestWatch’s larger bird nest monitoring program seemed an elegant solution to both of our teams. This has streamlined data accessibility for researchers, as well as provided our partners with an established data management system backed by one of the world leaders in community science.

And so, in effect, NestWatch has taken over the AKP’s community science program. NestWatch is now responsible for hosting data entry and management, promoting project participation, and providing troubleshooting to partners who encounter problems with their systems.

Screenshots of the AKP and NestWatch data entry portals

What do I need to do?

In mid-February 2024, a survey was sent to all partners to collect AKP usernames and Cornell Lab usernames from partners to facilitate data transfer between these two accounts. This survey was closed on 26 February 2024, and AKP and NestWatch staff used the results to transfer data from the AKP accounts of all survey respondents to their Cornell Lab accounts. If you did not fill out the survey, your data was still transferred from the AKP database to the NestWatch database, but will be inaccessible to you until you contact the NestWatch team to get your data moved onto it manually. Partners without a Cornell Lab account, or those who wish to keep their AKP data on a different Cornell Lab account than their personal one, can create one here. Please contact the NestWatch team for a proper data transfer rather than just re-entering your data in NestWatch! In addition to being unnecessary work for you, re-entering your data will also create duplicate data in the system, affecting the accuracy of future data analysis.

Please note: you may wish to create a separate account from your personal account (e.g., the one you use for personal eBirding, Bird Academy courses, etc.) if you anticipate that others may one day need to access your kestrel data (e.g., you participate as part of your job, and others may take over the account in the future).

A screenshot of the form AKP partners need to fill out

From a partner’s perspective, what’s changed?

From a big-picture perspective—very little! Partners are still monitoring kestrel boxes and submitting their observations to a centralized database; they're just now using NestWatch tools and the NestWatch database rather than an AKP website and database. As mentioned above, all old data was migrated to the NestWatch database, and partners can manage it there in the same manner as the data they enter via NestWatch tools. These data will then be used by scientists to answer research questions on a continent-wide scale, the same as ever.

There are, however, a few differences in what data is collected by NestWatch compared to the AKP’s current protocol. Certain data points that are required or optional for the AKP are not collected by NestWatch, and vice versa. The NestWatch team has put together a tremendous FAQ that outlines all these differences. We recommend all of our partners read it through at their convenience, as it’s a fantastic resource for folks who haven’t participated in NestWatch before to orient themselves on the platform.

Perhaps the biggest change for our partners is that in addition to entering data through a website form, partners now have access to two additional data entry methods that have long been on our wishlist: a smartphone app and bulk upload! The NestWatch app is available for free for both iOS and Android devices; resources for how to use the app can be found here. You can now enter all of your observation data right in the field, even if you don’t have cell service—observations can be stored on your phone and uploaded when you’re back in service.

Meanwhile, bulk upload will be available for partners submitting more than 100 nests. Nests can be combined across years and locations—e.g., one year of data from 100 nest boxes, four years of data from 25 boxes, etc.—but note that the criterion refers to entire nesting attempts rather than individual box observations. Partners interested in bulk upload can learn more here. Data MUST be submitted using Nestwatch's spreadsheet template; data sent in another format cannot be uploaded.

There is one feature of our prior system that NestWatch does not have: teams. This feature was used by a small subset of our partners, mainly community science programs with multiple volunteer box monitors, and allowed monitors to enter their own data while giving team leaders the ability to view and edit all of their team members’ data and to reassign boxes to new monitors as necessary. NestWatch does not possess this feature at this time. Former team leaders should contact NestWatch staff for help determining an alternative that will meet your team’s needs, if they have not done so already. Members of former AKP teams should contact their team leaders for instructions on how to submit their data.

Screenshots of the NestWatch app and a photo of two kestrel nestlings peering out of a nest box
App mockups courtesy of NestWatch; BG photo by Jenn Sinasac

Why did the AKP website go away?

As previously mentioned, the AKP website was over a decade old. The framework it had been built on was no longer supported by the developer, rendering it increasingly vulnerable to security flaws and functionality issues the longer it remained online, and our team had already observed a notable uptick in requests for troubleshooting in the months prior to the transition. To stay online, we would have needed to completely rebuild the site from the ground up in a new framework, an extremely expensive and time- and labor-intensive process. As a result, our team took a long look at the purpose the AKP website was currently serving before undertaking such a task.

“Under the hood,” the AKP website consisted of four different components: the data entry & management portal, the database itself, the community forum, and the main website. These first two components moved to NestWatch, which is why you’re reading this in the first place. Our community forum was intended to facilitate communication between our partners without requiring our staff to act as a go-between, but never saw enough activity to meet this goal. As a result, we decided to discontinue this third component as well.

The remaining component was our main website, which contained basic information about American Kestrels and their decline, instructions for nest monitoring and data entry, and more. All information pertaining to data entry and management was made obsolete by our transition to NestWatch, while most of the remaining information can also be found on the American Kestrel species profile hosted by the AKP's parent organization, The Peregrine Fund, as well as Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s pages about American Kestrels. (NestWatch has an American Kestrel species profile and a separate page with a kestrel nest box blueprint and installation information [the same plan we recommend!]; there’s also an All About Birds profile and eBird profile for the species, as well as an extensive entry on the subscription-based Birds of the World.) Maintaining the AKP website was therefore seen as redundant, and the investment of time and money that would have been required to rebuild it was determined to be unnecessary.

As a result, the existing AKP website has been taken down. Keep in mind, however, that all of our partners’ box and observation data have been moved to the NestWatch database and are available through their platform.

A screenshot of the AKP websit fading to white

Will you still send out a newsletter?

From 2014–2023, we sent out a quarterly AKP newsletter to increase partner engagement and to share news from our community science program and other projects. However, with the AKP’s community science program now under NestWatch’s purview, we’ve opted to discontinue the AKP-specific newsletter and split this content into two other pre-existing newsletters.

News about kestrel box monitoring is now shared in NestWatch's monthly newsletter; interested individuals can sign up to receive the NestWatch newsletter here. News from the AKP’s other projects has moved to Notes From the Field, the monthly newsletter released by the AKP’s parent organization, The Peregrine Fund (and authored by the same team behind the former AKP newsletter). Interested individuals can sign up to receive Notes From the Field here.

The AKP newsletter banner with arrows pointing to the banners of The Peregrine Fund's and NestWatch's newsletters

What about your Facebook page? Your Social Media Guy™ is hilarious.

For the same reasons we discontinued the AKP newsletter, we made the difficult decision to discontinue the AKP Facebook page as well. The page was deactivated on May 6, 2024. Going forward, news regarding kestrel box monitoring will be shared instead on NestWatch’s Facebook page, while news from the AKP’s other projects will be shared through The Peregrine Fund’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

We realize the AKP had gained something of a cult following on Facebook with its unorthodox style of teaching science using a mix of memes, GIFs, and oft-humorous photo captions, and we have no intention of abandoning this voice entirely. Our Social Media Guy™ will live on as a guest poster creating content for our parent organization, The Peregrine Fund. Follow us on our social media channels (Facebook / Instagram / YouTube) and let us know if you want to see more of his content! You can also follow our Social Media Guy™'s personal Instagram account @matthew.danihel for more AKP-style captions on his own wildlife photography.

A selection of comments on the AKP's Facebook page

OK, what about Adopt-a-Box?

Unlike the newsletter, website, and Facebook page, we will be continuing the Adopt-a-Box program at least through the 2024 breeding season. For those not in the know, our Adopt-a-Box program is a collaboration with researchers at Boise State University (BSU). Since 2015, members of the public have symbolically “adopted” boxes in the network that our partners at BSU have monitored since 1992. Adopters receive updates on the kestrel families that take up residence in their adopted boxes, among other perks, and the money from “adoption fees” supports the AKP and the BSU monitoring program.

Officially, the program will now be run by The Peregrine Fund and Boise State University (rather than the AKP and BSU), but in effect, very little will change: adopters will receive the same perks, produced by the same Peregrine Fund staff members, and the money from adoption fees will support The Peregrine Fund’s kestrel conservation work and the Boise State University monitoring program.

The only changes here are to the signup process. With the AKP website—including the original Adopt-a-Box sign-up page—going offline, we’ve set up a new sign-up page at peregrinefund.org/adopt-box. As part of this process, we’ve added the ability to set up a recurring adoption—if you’d like to adopt a box for multiple years in a row, as many of our adopters do, you’ll no longer have to re-sign up every year!

Thank you to all of our past, current, and future box adopters for supporting American Kestrel research and the training of tomorrow’s biologists here in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. We look forward to continuing to share slices of kestrel life with you this spring and beyond.

A selection of the materials that will be received by Adopt-a-Box participants in 2024
Eggs/nestling photo by Daniel Gélinas; all others courtesy of Boise State University or by Matthew Danihel

I’m a photographer who’s contributed photos to the AKP in the past. Do you still want photos?

Yes! Without the AKP Facebook page, we’ll be sharing fewer kestrel pictures than before, but The Peregrine Fund’s social media team (i.e., the same people that run the AKP page) would still love to have any good photos or videos of American Kestrels—or any other birds of prey—that you’re willing to share. These photographs can be sent to photoshare@peregrinefund.org. Thank you!

Four photos submitted by AKP contributing photographers in a filmstrip frame
Photos by (L to R) Joanie Lavigne, Seth Vreeman, Kirstin Chapman, and Banook Rodarte

Who do we contact if we still have questions?

Please direct any questions to the NestWatch team here. NestWatch staff will contact our staff if necessary, but with the transition now completed, Nestwatch should be able to handle the vast majority of inquiries. Like the AKP, NestWatch has a much smaller team than most would expect, and your patience when awaiting their responses will be greatly appreciated.

A screenshot of the NestWatch contact page
Screenshot courtesy of NestWatch

So what is the AKP now that the transition is completed?

Simply put, the AKP is still what it always has been: a collective of professional and community scientists working together to advance kestrel conservation. All of our work will continue in the future, just under different umbrellas: our community science program continues on under NestWatch’s purview, while our parent organization The Peregrine Fund has taken over our partnerships with Boise State University, the University of North Texas, and other ongoing and future American Kestrel research projects. The AKP may not be as visible as a separate entity in the future, but rest assured that we’re still here and you’re still a vital part of the team.

We recognize this is a sizable change, but it’s an exciting one that will benefit not only our partners and the NestWatch program, but kestrel conservation as a whole. Time and again, research has proven the importance of collaboration in conservation, and we’re confident that this new collaboration between The Peregrine Fund, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all of you will be a major step forward for kestrel conservation everywhere.

Welcome to the future. We’re glad you’re here.

Titles and signatures of the stakeholders of the AKP-NestWatch transition