Monday, April 18, 2011

The Kestrel Residential Accommodation Partnership

So . . . I really like Kestrels!  I don't know if I've ever said that here on this blog, or my other blog.  I really do like them.  They are such pretty little raptors.  I am thinking perhaps this fall I will trap and train another one . . . I did that in 2004.  I never got little Rigel on game, but I managed to keep him alive and healthy, and released him after the season back to the wild.  I'd like to try again.  This time I plan to be more prepared, and have some sparrows on hand for training.  It will either be a kestrel, or if I can manage to make the arrangements and get lucky, perhaps a merlin.  Either way, I do like these little falcons.  Some of my summer activities include building some new equipment, and learning how to trap some of these junk house sparrows we have on the farm in abundance.

In an effort to increase the population of kestrels in my geographic region, I commissioned Rich to make me a kestrel nest box.  I financed the purchase of the supplies . . . and he made me three!  He then went on a few weeks later, and made three more.  His brother Brian helped.  As soon as the ground thawed out enough to allow for digging, we put up several of them.  One was given to Dr. Gray, the vet who came to medicate and castrate the calves last fall.  He likes kestrels too . . . so Rich thought it would be nice to give him one to put up on his land.

Here are pictures of the "Partnership" establishing the kestrel nest box distribution.  Rich and his oldest brother Brian attach the box to a 12' pole, which when sunk into the ground will put the box at about 9 to 10 feet high.
A 'predator guard' is attached to make access to the box possible by wing only.  No free meals to cats or raccoons.  Unfortunately nothing prevents starlings from moving in . . . unless I evict them.
Post hole digger to make the holes to sink the posts into.
Brian holds the pole as Rich fills in the hole.
The first box was placed within sight of the farm house.  It is along Hwy 44 facing South towards an open farm field, which has the patch of land between the road and the field, which is often hunted by a local kestrel, as well as overlooking the drainage grass belt, where mice are often found by the farm dog, Tasha.  That's me at the base holding Puddin, the Pomeranian.  Tasha the husky is snuffing around for gophers, which were beginning to awaken from their winter hibernation on this spring day.
Another box is placed on the far back side of the farm, overlooking a valley.  All boxes are placed in the open with no trees nearby.  The inside has a layer of clean wood shavings.  The kestrel-sized hole faces South to South-West.
We gave one box to our Wednesday Night "Movie Night" hostess, Laurie, to hang on one of her old barn buildings that overlooks a valley, in Wisconsin.  Rich attached it for her.
Laurie's daughter, Emily, points up at her own personal kestrel nest box.
The final box was placed on "Olga's Farm", an elderly neighbor who has now died, but whose property the Hanson family still rents the land to grow crops.  It also overlooks an open field of mixed grasses and low shrubs.  It all looks like good kestrel habitat to me.
The Landlord of the Kestrel Residential Accommodation Partnership (KRAP) stands waiting, inviting (really) for some colorful little raptors to move in and make lots of babies.  Rent is reasonable . . . payment in the unknown future of an eyass to take by his crazy wife for falconry.  Until then, it would be nice to just watch them from a distance in my spotting scope.


  1. I love Kestrels - they have such great personalities. Like you, I have yet to get one hunting in the field, that may be my project for this fall as well.

    Good luck!

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