The Kestrels - Cassie and Ziggy

Videos will be updated periodically during the nesting season

Cassie and Ziggy first nested here in 2017 when they raised 4 young. They made their nest in a big old barn ventilation tile that we fixed high on an east-facing wall of our larger barn. They returned to nest again in April 2018 and the camera was put in place in May that year. When we noticed they had returned in 2019 we reactivated the camera on 9 May.

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Kestrels are adaptable in their use of nest sites, but do not build their own nests. Old or disused nests of crows and other large birds are often used, as are ledges of buildings. Here they are using an upturned roof vent tile that we fixed to the barn to attract them. They are also regular hole-nesters and readily accept nestboxes. The same nest site is often used in successive years with some sites used for decades.

Les crécerelles sont adaptables dans leur utilisation des sites de nidification, mais ne construisent pas leurs propres nids. Les nids de corbeaux et autres nids anciens ou abandonnés sont souvent utilisés, ou les rebords des bâtiments. Ici ils ont adopté une vielle chatière renversé par nos soins. Le même site de nidification est souvent utilisé plusieurs années de suite, certains sites étant utilisés depuis des décennies.

This Year - 2019

5. 14 June 2019 - Flown the nest - and back - and forth

4. 5 June 2019 - Fluff to Feathers in One Week

3. 23 May 2019 - a short compilation from the last 5 days in which you can see the young kestrels grow !

3. 18 May 2019 - all the eggs hatched a few days ago and now the parents have a full-time job feeding them

2. 10 May 2019 - two more kestrel chicks since yesterday (total three hatched so far)

1. 9 May 2019 - feeding the first chick with both male and female kestrel in nest

Kestrels defend only a small territory immediately around the nest. The larger home range where the birds find most of their food is often partly shared with neighbouring pairs. The home range is generally at least 1 km square, but can be as large as 10 km square. Food availability and number of other kestrels in the area determine the size.

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Last Year - 2018

6. 16 June 2018 - The young kestrels start to show feathers - one finds its food hard to swallow

5. 30 May 2018 - Collage of chicks being fed mice and lizards

5. 26 May 2018 - Footage inside and outside the nest

4. 25 May 2018 - Five chicks have hatched, sixth not apparent, Cassie feeding them

3. 23 May 2018 - Three chicks have hatched, parents feeding them

3. 11 May 2018 - Ziggy Brings Home the Bacon. Don't Blink!

2. 10 May 2018 - Female (Cassie) to Male (Ziggy) Handover

1. 7 May 2018 - Female (Cassie) on clutch of 6 eggs

The timing of egg laying is dependent on the weather, but the female normally lays her clutch of 3-6 eggs in late April or early May. She is only able to produce eggs if she can get enough food. In years when vole numbers are low, many kestrels fail to nest at all.

The female lays the eggs at two-day intervals, and usually starts to incubate as she lays the third egg. Incubation takes 27-29 days per egg, which hatch over a period of a few days. The chicks require constant brooding for the first 10-14 days, after which they are able to control their own body temperature.

The male provides the female and the chicks with food throughout the nesting period. The female will only hunt if food is short, risking the loss of eggs or young chicks. Only as the young get bigger, can she safely start to hunt close to the nest.

The chicks fledge gradually when they are around four weeks old. They explore increasing distances from the nest, but return to it to roost for another couple of weeks. Adults continue to feed the young for a month after fledging, during which time they will learn to catch their own food.

Unusually for birds of prey, there is no aggression between the chicks, which tend to fly, perch and roost together even for some time after fledging.


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