Last weekend, Ed, Nick and I traveled to the Alpena area one last time to band Kestrel nestlings. With Arnie Pokorzynski as our guide, we were able to band 20 nestlings, bringing our total to 103 Kestrels. One interesting highlight was discovering 8 eggs in one nest box. American Kestrels usually lay 4-6 eggs, so this clutch was quite large. Although we do not know with certainty, we hypothesize that a female Kestrel may have laid some eggs that for some reason she was unable to return to, at which time another female Kestrel may have taken over the nest box and laid additional eggs. We also banded our 100th Kestrel!
8 eggs in one nest box!
An exciting bird: the 100th Kestrel we banded! This male is approximately 24 days old and he has a bit of leftover food stuck on his beak!
Although these two Kestrels are from the same nest, the male chick on the left is older than the female chick on the right. Female Kestrels lay their eggs over a period of days, often laying a few eggs before beginning to incubate. The eggs will also hatch over a few days, which sometimes results in chicks from the same clutch exhibiting age differences.
Here we show the same chicks from a different angle. In terms of size, the female on the bottom is not much smaller than the male at the top. However, she has much more fluffy down and her feathers have not had as much time to emerge. We aged this female to be about 16 days old and her brother to be about 18 days old.
Today, July 7, we visited 2 nest boxes in Emmet County which contained nestlings that had previously been too young to band. Both boxes contained 3 young each, which brought our season total to 109 American Kestrels banded. Only 1 of the 109 was an adult. Today will likely have been our last day of Kestrel banding this summer.
A bittersweet bird: the last Kestrel to be banded, our 109th! This male is about 16 days old.
A dorsal view of our last Kestrel featuring our banding kit in the background. In the coming days, he will lose his white down while the feathers of his juvenile plumage lengthen and grow.