Kestrel Nests

11-13-2023

Below are some images taken from my blinds near my American Kestrel natural cavity nest boxes. Persons interested in photographing the birds need to communicate with me regarding the timing of the nesting cycle for the boxes. I monitor the boxes with a camera.

American Kestrels are extremely wary birds. If an adult sees any sign the photographer in the blind (even a shadow moving) it won’t go to the nest, and it will attack its mate to make sure it doesn’t go to the nest. The lens poking out of the blind cannot move for the same reason. I set up complete concealment blinds with dummy lens hoods to habituate the adults. My Kestrel blinds can be entered during the morning – no need to enter them pre-dawn, which is usually the case for Kestrels.

Find out how to photography them in flight near the nest here.

Each season is different. The adults can start early or late, depending on weather conditions. If they start early (early May) and there are a few nights in a row of temps in the low 20s (as occurred 3 years ago in late May) all eggs can freeze, and they will not attempt to re-nest. Fortunately, that did not happen last season.

Mirrorless cameras are required, as shutter sound will disturb the adult birds – they often won’t come back to feed nestlings once they hear it. A camera with 20 frames per second, at minimum, is best. A high quality 500mm lens is a minimum requirement. A cable release is required.

Opportunities are possible for flight coming in, feeding, any interaction, and flight going away. It is not required to get into the blind well before sunrise, as is normally the case with Kestrel nests. You get in just after sunrise on a sunny morning, a little later on a cloudy morning.

You never know what the adults might bring in or what might happen.

female landing with insect

female before feeding grasshopper

female feeding insect to nestling

male with red-bellied snake

This is the first image of an interesting sequence. The entire sequence is here: Kestrel sequence

female drops grasshopper

male with meadow vole

begging

takeoff veer

female feeding nestling

male landing

female landing

unfed nestling begging

nestling with red-bellied snake

male feeding nestling

female feeding nestling

begging

female drops grasshopper

male with small bird

female landing with grasshopper

female in rain

female landing

male takeoff

female takeoff

female flight

male perched

female feeding nestling