Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘nestbox’

A Glimpse into the Monitoring of New Jersey’s American Kestrels

Monday, July 8th, 2024

by Rachel McGovern, Communications and Outreach Manager

New Jersey is home to three native falcon species, the peregrine falcon, merlin, and American kestrel. Falcons are fierce predators known for their swift flight and intensity. Of these species, I am always most excited to spot an American kestrel.

These small falcons, roughly the size of a mourning dove, are the smallest falcon species in North America. They thrive in habitats with short vegetation such as parklands, meadows, and agricultural areas. Here, they hunt for insects and small animals like mice and voles. You can often see them perched on wires or branches, scanning for prey with their distinctive tail-bobbing behavior. They nest in tree cavities or specially placed nest boxes near fields and meadows.

Recently, I had the privilege to join New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s (NJFW) Endangered and Nongame Species Program’s American kestrel monitoring team at a nestbox site to band young kestrels. The NJFW American kestrel project works with volunteers to monitor nest boxes in New Jersey and gather critical data about this species. American kestrels were designated as a State threatened species in 2012. While there is still a lot to learn about their decline, it is understood to be at least partially due to habitat loss and a lack of nesting sites. NJFW has been monitoring these small falcons to learn about their decline and support their recovery.

A band is placed on a kestrel’s leg. Photo courtesy of Steve Neumann.
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Photos from the Field: Peregrine Falcon Nestbox Installation in Trenton

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
Meeting our goals…we can only hope!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

In 1993-94 six young peregrine falcons were released at 20 West State Street (Mary G. Roebling Building) in Trenton to help bolster the population of urban nesting falcons in the area. Currently the closest nest is 20 miles away at the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (where they also have a camera at the nest). Twenty years later and we may finally get some nesting falcons in Trenton! It all started when Jean Bickal, a worker in the building, noticed a falcon that often perched on the building ledges. From there Kathy Clark, a Zoologist with New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife made a site visit and took measurements to see if we could fit a nestbox (dog igloo) out a window on the 10th floor, which also had a roof on it. It appeared one would fit so we setup a date to install the new nestbox.

 

Cities and urban areas actually provide suitable habitat for falcons. Urban areas usually have lots of ledges under bridges or on buildings for them to nest, and abundant prey, in the form of pigeons and other songbirds. In New Jersey we have three other pairs that nest on buildings in Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Atlantic City, plus pairs that nest on the Tacony-Palmyra, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Burlington-Bristol Bridges.

 

On February 5th we helped install a new nestbox on top of a roof at 20 W. State St. We’re hoping that the falcon seen that day will find a mate and use the nestbox to raise young. Fingers crossed that we get some good news soon!

 

Learn more:

First, we had to fit this "Dog Igloo" out the window. © Jean Bickal

After getting all our gear up to the 10th floor, we first had to fit this “Dog Igloo” out the window…  © Jean Bickal

When we got here a female peregrine falcon was perched on the ledge of the 10th floor roof! © Jean Bickal

We spotted this beautiful young female peregrine falcon on the ledge! © Jean Bickal

 © Jean Bickal

After fitting the nestbox through the window we carried it over to where it would be installed, all as the falcon watched us! © Jean Bickal

Kathy Clark, ENSP Zoologist determines the best location for the nestbox while the adult female peregrine falcon watches us.  © Jean Bickal

Kathy Clark, ENSP Zoologist determines the best location for the nestbox. We moved slowly to not spook the falcon. © Jean Bickal

What a beauty! © Jean Bickal

What a beauty! © Jean Bickal

Ben and Kathy discuss mounting and placement options. © Jean Bickal

Ben and Kathy discuss mounting and placement options. © Jean Bickal

Ben attaches the base of the igloo to some wood to weigh it down. © Jean Bickal

Ben attaches the base of the igloo to some wood to weigh it down. © Jean Bickal

Then gravel is added.  © Jean Bickal

Then gravel is added. © Jean Bickal

The top is installed and Ben mounts it to the base. © Jean Bickal

The top is installed and Ben mounts it to the base. © Jean Bickal

Can never have too much gravel! © Jean Bickal

Can never have too much gravel! © Jean Bickal

While installing the box she perched on a nearby roof top. © Jean Bickal

While installing the box she perched on a nearby roof top. © Jean Bickal

The finished product! © Jean Bickal

The finished product! © Jean Bickal

Ben Wurst is the Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.