American Kestrel: nesting?

March 30, 2012 in Nearby Landbirds

Encountered this American Kestrel on Tuesday morning in Lawrence.  This location has supported nesting Kestrels in the past few years according to a local observer.  What a delight to see this kestrel perched in the cavity opening after keeping an eye out for the past few weeks!  According to Mass Audubon, “spring migration occurs mainly during March and April, and by the latter month local breeders are on their territories at woodland borders, fields, pastures, and the edges of highways. As the breeding season approaches, kestrels abandon their solitary winter habits. Members of a pair often perch side by side, and courtship consists of aerial displays by the male above a perched or flying female. The male ascends on rapidly fluttering wings and then plunges steeply, giving the familiar, repetitive killy-killy or kee-kee call, which is used not only in courtship but also at other times of excitement. Copulation during this period is frequent and precedes egg laying by several weeks.”

4 Eggs have been laid!

March 27, 2012 in In the Nest Box

While away on family vacation last week, received a wonderful email update from Lorraine Kaplan about the Peregrines.  Lorraine observed on the New Balance Falcon Cam that not only had 2 eggs already been laid, but a third one had just been laid late Thursday morning, March 22nd. morning!   According to Tom French at MassWildlife, the fourth egg should be laid on Saturday, March 24th.  Read the rest of this entry →

Peregrine at nest box!

March 16, 2012 in On the Clock Tower

The Peregrines have been staying close to the nest box and on the nest box perch.  Yesterday, one of the Peregrines was scraping the fine gravel inside the nest box to create a bowl formation.  It laid down on its breast and used its feet to push back gravel to enhance the bowl.  I wondered if this is typical just before laying of eggs? 


According to Chris Martin, Senior Biologist in the Conservation Department at New Hampshire Audubon in Corcord, NH, the described behavior can occur for weeks before egg-laying.  Once egg laying starts, an egg appears every other day, so the process can take up to a week or longer.  Typically the pair begins incubating after the second egg arrives, but sometimes intermittently.  By the time the third egg appears, they are pretty solidly incubating.

Here is a photo captured just a bit later.  The Peregrine departed the perch, circled a bit, gently chased a few pigeons, and then landed on the SW corner rooftop of the Clock Tower.




American Kestrel

March 9, 2012 in Nearby Landbirds

While parked for a moment on the north side of South Union St. on the west side of the Duck Bridge, I looked through my binoculars towards the clock tower.  My hope was to spot one of the peregrines perched on the north side of the tower. No luck……but, a bird the size of a Robin was perched on the crown of a nearby tree.  The colors were a bit unusual so I took an extra moment and redirected the binoculars.  What a surprise to find an American Kestrel! Walked out onto the bridge for better lighting and better angle for photo.  Shared the photo with local hawk expert, Paul Roberts, and he commented with these words “the kestrel looks like an absolutely gorgeous adult male….. Absolutely gorgeous.”  Agreed!

The Kestrel is the smallest of the falcons in North America.  The male has a rusty brown back and tail with slate blue wings.  The female is slightly larger with a rusty brown back and rusty brown wings. 

The Kestrel is known for hovering in one place while searching for prey.  They use their very sharp eyesight to scan and then capture grasshoppers and crickets as well as small birds and mice.

According to Mass Audubon the population of American Kestrels in Massachusetts has dropped precipitously in the past few decades.  In response, Mass Audubon is launching a nest box program aimed at helping the American Kestrel population recover.  Thanks to this South Union Street sighting, we’ll now keep an eye open for confirmed breeding activity in the general area!


Peregrine pair mating continues!

March 8, 2012 in On the Clock Tower

The Peregrines continue the mating process.  Stopped the nest box on Wed. morning and the the female was resting on a NW ledge near the nest box.  The male was perched on the window sill in the nest box.  The male swooped out of the nest box and made a few aerial swirls with both peregrines calling out loud.  The male then approached the female on the ledge.  The male carefully approached the female from the air, landed and then mounted the female. 



The copulation lasted about ten seconds before the male flew away to a nearby perch.