On June 13, Think Wild received a call about two nestling American Kestrels who had accidentally been transported with a bale of hay from Burns, Oregon to a farm in Tumalo. The mother was not present, so the finder brought the two nestlings to Think Wild for care.
Upon intake, Think Wild staff determined that these two nestlings were about 10 days old and in good body condition. Think Wild staff provided heat support and food to the young kestrels, and then immediately contacted the East Cascades Audubon Society (ECAS) to try and identify potential foster parents. ECAS manages a kestrel nest box monitoring project, in which they install and monitor American Kestrel nest boxes throughout Central Oregon. Since kestrels will readily foster orphaned nestlings as long as they are similar in age to their own young, Think Wild requested that ECAS check their boxes for active nests with young nestlings.
On Monday, June 19, Think Wild Volunteer, Gary Lauder, transported the two kestrel nestlings to Crooked River Ranch, where ECAS confirmed that a kestrel family had established a nest with three healthy nestlings. This nest was selected because of the health and number of existing nestlings – kestrels will typically have about five young, so this brood will not overwhelm the hardworking adult birds who care for them.
Think Wild anticipates that all five young kestrels will fledge the nest in about two weeks, at which point parents continue care as they gain flight skills. Think Wild and ECAS are optimistic that all of these young kestrels will lead successful lives in the wild.
American Kestrels are the smallest falcon in North America. They typically feed on small mammals, reptiles, insects, and birds, and they hunt from power lines, trees, and other elevated perches. Kestrels live in open meadows, fields, and grasslands throughout North and Central America. Their populations have declined significantly across their range, and the American Kestrel Partnership seeks to collect nesting data to better understand this decline. The ECAS Kestrel Nest Box Project provides data and findings to that program.