BOISE, Idaho – Once common all across North America, the colorful American Kestrel is in a steady decline, with populations decreasing by 47 percent over the last 45 years. To find out why this is occurring and how to stop it, The Peregrine Fund has launched a new project called the American Kestrel Partnership.
The project will bring together citizen scientists and professional researchers to create the largest kestrel research and conservation effort in history, said Matt Giovanni, a research biologist who is directing the project.
“The success of this project depends on the public collecting and recording their observations across North America,” Giovanni said. “Researchers will then use that data to discover how kestrels are affected by environmental and biological issues, which may also be affecting other species, including humans.”
The Partnership’s new website (http://kestrel.peregrinefund.org) will allow citizen scientists of all ages and experience levels to:
- Monitor a kestrel nest box and report their observations.
- Watch a webcam featuring live video of nesting kestrels and report on their activities.
- Learn about kestrels, join in the conversation about the project, and connect with other Partners and professional researchers around the world.
“Even if kestrel enthusiasts don’t have a nest box to monitor, our kestrelcams bring the excitement of watching adult kestrels raising their young right into a home or classroom,” Giovanni said. “Observers can report daily activities, such as when food comes to the nest or a chick hatches.”
Information compiled by The Peregrine Fund from bird counts and other research shows:
- U.S. declines are worst in the Northeast, where the population has decreased by as much as 88 percent in 45 years.
- In Idaho and the Northwest, the decline is 36 percent to 55 percent.
“We want to understand and address these steady population declines before kestrels become even more rare,” Giovanni said. “It is far more effective and affordable to address the problem now.”
Reasons for the decline are unclear but may be due to changing land use, competition from other birds, toxins like pesticides or pollution, or climate change. Professional scientists will use the data collected by citizen scientists to understand and address population declines, he said.
Did you know?
- American Kestrels are found throughout North America, Central America, and South America, including the Caribbean Islands.
- It is the smallest and most colorful of all falcon species in the Americas.
- Habitat is mostly in open country with trees, power lines, fence posts, and other structures for perching. Kestrels are common in towns and suburbs.
- These cavity-nesters are attracted to nestboxes, which makes it possible for people to easily increase the habitat available to kestrels.
- The female typically lays 4-6 eggs. The male and female share incubation duties for 28-32 days. Chicks are in the nest about a month before fledging.
For more information, contact:
Director of Global Engagement
Main Phone: 208-362-3716
Direct Phone: 208-362-8277