The Peregrine Fund and Boise State University scientists have been working together to monitor regional American Kestrel populations in an effort to better understand the reason for this species’ decline across much of North America. This week, the five chicks that have been on view for the world to watch grow via The Peregrine Fund’s Bosch Kestrel Webcam have reached the appropriate age for researchers to band and take measurements.
The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership (AKP) Director, Dr. Chris McClure in collaboration with Boise State University Professor, Dr. Julie Heath have been working to identify possible causes of Kestrel decline throughout North America. “Most people have seen American Kestrels, but this historically common little falcon has become a rare sight in many regions of North America where populations have been declining for numerous decades,” says Dr. McClure.
Identifying the reason for this decline has been challenging. Reasons for population declines may include land use, climate change, depredation by Cooper’s Hawks and other birds of prey, competition with European Starlings for nesting cavities, and environmental contaminants such as rodenticides, heavy metals, and brominated flame retardants (used in electronics and textiles). “We don’t have sufficient data to understand why these long-term, wide-spread population declines are occurring,” says Dr. Heath, “we need more information to understand where the birds are having trouble in their life cycle.”
This highlights the need for nest box monitoring data, which offer demographic insights by giving us a glimpse into the kestrel life cycle. On the morning of Thursday June 4, Dr. McClure and one of Dr. Heath’s graduate students will carefully remove the five nestlings from their box, located at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, so they can apply a bracelet-like band around their legs and take measurements of wing and leg length. The chicks will also receive a brief exam to ensure their health and then be swiftly returned to the nest box. The parents typically are agitated by the removal of their chicks for the short time-period, but quickly return to normal routines of providing insects and rodents for the young.
|Director of Global Engagement|