Conserve Wildlife Blog

A Kestrel Story

August 26th, 2022

Diane Cook, CWF volunteer

As a volunteer for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and NJ’s Wildlife Conservation Corps I monitor bald eagle, osprey, and kestrel nests for the state. Kestrel monitoring is new to me this year. They are North
America’s smallest falcon. I enjoy watching them hunt, hovering over the grasslands
and open fields. Monitors watch and record milestones of the nesting season. Fledge
Day is the end of our season and what we hope to witness.
Friday – I knew the chicks would be fledging soon, and hoped I had not missed it. I sat in
my vehicle and watched for just over 3 hours! I could hear noise from inside the box as
wings were being flapped and exercised. For the longest time, I thought one had
already fledged since I was just seeing one perched in the box opening.

Then Mom came to the wire showing off her big, fat mouse! Both chicks looked out and cried to their mother. She sat on the wire, holding the mouse in her talons, her mouth, and then she flipped it in the air, and caught it in her talons. She was inviting her boys to fly out to her for breakfast.

When they didn’t come to her, she flew straight to the box giving the boys a close look at the mouse. Adult raptors will withhold prey to entice their nestlings to take that leap and fly. Neither were ready to leave the box despite both adults showing off several mice that morning.

Saturday – There was much pushing and shoving at the box opening when Dad showed up nearby with a big mouse this morning. Still no one was leaving, and the adults flew off.

It was time for me to leave. I did not see either of the adults nearby, and figured the boys wouldn’t leave without them in sight. I was wrong, and thankful I took one more look. Boy 1 was really antsy. They both fought for position again at the box opening, and the next thing I know, a chick was out of the box and he was flying!

I watched him land in a nearby tree. The flight was good and strong, with a nice landing. My first kestrel season ended watching one chick fledge, an empty nest box, and a kestrel family of four flying in the distance. Fledglings remain with their parents for another couple weeks after fledging, until they are able to hunt for themselves.

Fly well boys!

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5 Responses to “A Kestrel Story”

  1. Susan harrison says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience

  2. Barb McKee says:

    It is so great to see this wonderful story and photos in print! It has been a fun and productive season for our little kestrels this year. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Clare Luisi says:

    What a great story! I love Kestrels and it sounds like quite an exciting thing to witness as they take that first leap of faith! Kudos to you for monitoring all three of our most beautiful Raptors.

  4. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for great narration an pictures

  5. Diane Cook says:

    Thank you ladies. It has been an exciting raptor season!