by Steve Morrison

If you see a Kestrel in the Lake Wales to Frostproof area in the month of May or June, it will surely be one of our non-migrating "Florida" Kestrels. All the northern "winter visitor" Kestrels will have returned to their homelands, and the only ones remaining in Florida will be the Southeastern Kestrel.

The Kestrel is a falcon, and it is our most colorful and smallest hawk, about the size of a Robin. Nesting is now well underway and some pairs are already feeding young. Unfortunately, the Southeastern Kestrel population in Florida is in serous decline. Once abundant throughout Florida, the species is now listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ridge Audubon volunteers are working to turn around our local Kestrels' declining numbers. The problem for Kestrels is lack of available nesting cavities, so we are providing nest boxes for them. These nest boxes take the place of the natural holes found in dead trees that used to be abundant in the natural habitats of the Ridge. Nowadays, most dead trees are cut down and removed as quickly as possible in our obsession to maintain "neat" yards and parks. Kestrels and other cavity nesting birds like Eastern Bluebirds, Screech Owls, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Wood Duck must now compete for the few snag cavities that remain. Kestrels are on the losing end of that competition.

Since 1996, we have erected over 60 Kestrel nest boxes around Lake Wales, Babson Park, and Frostproof. This spring, we received permission to erect boxes around Lake Wailes, so look for Kestrels around our boxes when you drive around the lake. We also got permission to put boxes in the rolling pastures just east of Babson Park and already two of the three boxes we put there have been occupied by Kestrels.

Many Ridge Audubon members have supported the Kestrel Project by purchasing a Kestrel box for their yard or by contributing to the project. Thanks for your support! We are interested in hearing about any May or June Kestrel sightings. We also want to hear from you if a Kestrel (or other bird) takes up residence in your Kestrel box. So, please call Kestrel Project Coordination Steve Morrison at 696-3405 with your sighting. We also need volunteers to monitor nest boxes once a week.

Stay tuned for more Kestrel updates!

Learn more about Audubon and the Environment:

Check our Meetings and Events Calendar
Learn about Our Chapter, and how to join
Read/post messages on our Ridge Audubon Message Board
Checkout the latest issue of The Flying Eagle Newsletter
Read the Ledger's editorial about flooding by Robert Connors Check out Steve Morrison's Kestrel Project Update. Read about Removing the Oklawaha's Rodman Dam
Visit our favorite Environmental Web Sites
Go back to the Ridge Audubon Home Page
or, e-mail us

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LAST UPDATED: Thursday, 11-Nov-2010 14:35:49 EST