The American Kestrel – Falcon of the Fields
The American kestrel, a small falcon, is one of the most beautiful birds in North America. Beyond that, it is one of the most fascinating to watch. With its constant, vigilant energy, fighter jet maneuvers, and high pitched calls, a resident kestrel dominates its hunting territory as it dives for rodents, small birds, and large insects. It is undoubtedly one of the most desirable birds to attract.
Attracting kestrels to a farm or property where barn owls are being utilized to help reduce rodent numbers is an excellent method of increasing hunting pressure on rodent pests. For one, since the barn owls hunt at night, and the kestrels hunt during the day, the two species can keep up pressure on rodents. Just the presence of flying kestrels can reduce rodent foraging activity, thus keeping down crop damage. Also, kestrels tend to eat smaller prey–younger animals, and sometimes different species such as house mice. This means that different ages and sizes of the rodent population are harvested.
A side benefit of establishing kestrel nest boxes to attract kestrels is adding to the conservation efforts for this species which has been shown to be declining in a number of states. Since a lack of suitable nesting sites is cited as the single most limiting factor to kestrel populations, erecting nest boxes in suitable habitat is an excellent way of contributing to healthy populations of this beautiful falcon.