Eastern Wisconsin Kestrel Project
Jennifer Rutten, Director of Glacial Lakes Conservancy, contacted CSA regarding a program being conducted by Danny Erickson of the Cedar Grove Ornithological Research Station asking if we would be willing to assist with an ongoing Kestrel project.
According to the Cedar Grove proposal:
American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) are a widespread raptor in North America, but recent trends show a population decline (Smallwood et al. 2009, Sauer et al. 2013, McClure et al. 2017), prompting many studies on this decline. Kestrels may be experiencing different threats at regional and local scales (McClure et al. 2017 and Ruegg et al. 2021), and research is lacking for eastern Wisconsin. Kestrels use natural cavities in trees in open areas for nesting, but a shortage of suitable nesting habitat may be a contributing factor to declines of this species (McClure et al. 2017). To aid this species, many nest box monitoring programs across North America have been created. Kestrels are cavity-nesters that readily adapt to human-made nest boxes (Smallwood 2009 and Smallwood and Bird 2020), making observing Kestrel reproduction relatively simple. Kestrels are highly tolerant to nesting site disturbance, handling, and individual capture and marking by researchers (Smallwood 2009).
This study aims to better understand Kestrel population trends in eastern Wisconsin through banding effort and nest box surveys. We will observe nest box occupancy, productivity, and juvenile dispersal as well as the wintering habitat use of this population. We aim to generate Kestrel nesting data to connect to broader monitoring programs across the hemisphere. Understanding these relationships will enable a more complete picture of the American Kestrel’s life history and provide information to support conservation of Kestrel habitat and populations.
The opportunity to assist with this kind of project is in line with our Corporate Stance on Care for Creation and our commitment to the tenets of Laudato Si'. The program will be monitored by Danny Erickson from the Cedar Grove Ornithological Research Station but will provide opportunities for CSA as well as potential collaboration with school-age groups when the possibility arises. Two bird boxes placed on poles were installed on August 3, 2022—one on the Ledge and one in a western corner near highway 151. Hopefully, we will attract some Kestrels and add to the scientific data while assisting with the goal of bringing the population back to health.