More Kestrel Banding!

Another June weekend meant more American Kestrel chicks to band! On June 23, Ed, Nick and Frances travelled to the Alpena area once again to meet up with Arnie Pokorzynski. 28 chicks were banded. On June 24 we visited next boxes in Cheboygan and Emmet counties. We banded 5 more chicks. Several nest boxes we checked contained chicks too young to band. We will revisit these boxes in the coming weeks with the hopes of banding their inhabitants.

Aside from banding these Kestrels, one of our objectives has also been to collect data to contribute to the American Kestrel Partnership’s genoscaping project. This project aims to compile genetic information about Kestrels around America. To do this, we collect two breast feathers from one nestling per clutch, which will be sent to a lab to be analyzed. The goal is to create a map that geographically differentiates subpopulations of Kestrels based on base pairs found in their DNA sequence. This will better help us understand the specific migratory routes of different populations within the species.

 

Here we compare two nestmates. This photo illustrates the differences between female (the bird on the left) and male (the bird on the right) Kestrels. These nestlings are 23-25 days old and resemble miniature adults at this stage.

This female is close to fledging. American Kestrels leave the nest around 31 days after hatching, but parental care continues after fledging for about another week.

A few of the boxes we checked this last weekend contained chicks too young to band. We will wait until at least 13 days after hatching to band these chicks. This will give their feathers time to emerge and will allow us to determine their sex.

Ed, Frances and Nick work together to retrieve a clutch of 5 feisty chicks accompanied by Steve Baker and Kathy Bricker of MSRW. (Photo credit: Steve Baker)