Sacajawea Audubon
3Jul/16Off

SAS American Kestrel Project Update

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Female American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

In 2013, Sacajawea Audubon began installing kestrel nest boxes around Gallatin Valley with the help of the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP).  This international project was in response to long-term population declines of kestrels in North America.

No boxes were used by kestrels in the first two years of the project.  Then in 2014, SAS Project Leader Paulette Epple found 3 active boxes.  Success!  In 2015, there were 2 active nests.

This year there are 8 active nests. The AKP also requested that we band the nestlings/adults and collect body feather samples as part of the American Kestrel Genoscape Project.  The genetic data from the feathers will be analyzed to understand the migratory connectivity of kestrel populations and how the connectivity changes with climate.

Lou Ann Harris, who is a licensed bander, received the necessary permit modifications to band kestrels and collect feathers.  On June 27th, Paulette and Lou Ann checked 6 boxes with the hope of catching an incubating female.  They did indeed catch 3 females in the box and banded them.  Once the nestlings reach the age of about 18 days, the team will band them and collect the feathers.

This has become a very exciting conservation project for Sacajawea Audubon!  It's so rewarding to know that our efforts are making a difference.

 

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