Keeping Up With The Kestrels (2024 Nest Update)

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The Kestrels Are Back and Ready to Ruffle Some Feathers!

The Kestrel Parents with Five Eggs in the Nest
Kestrel male (left) and female (right) swapping incubation duties. Image by Nest Box Live.

Our kestrel nest is back in full action and boy, are we thrilled to have them back for another season of nesting antics!

This common kestrel family are being live-streamed every day from their nest box location in Blackpool, UK. It’s like reality TV, but with more feathers and fewer Kardashians!

Tune in to the live-stream on our YouTube channel and follow our blog for all the latest updates on their feathered family drama.

Let’s Nestle into the Past…

If you’re new to this kestrel live-stream, let’s take a trip down memory lane to see why our viewers are hooked on these high-flying falcons.

Since we installed cameras in this nest back in 2020, we’ve been captivated by the comings and goings of our kestrel companions. From raising four chicks in 2021 and 2022 to a whopping five chicks in 2023, this nest has seen its fair share of baby bird bonanzas!

Kestrel Chicks Up Close Whilst Being Ringed
A kestrel chick from the Blackpool nest in 2020, whilst it was being ringed. Image by Steve Cushing Photography.

Its worth noting that kestrels are quite discerning about their nesting spots. They will often disregard a nest one year if the conditions and food availability aren’t up to scratch. It’s really positive to see these kestrels continually returning and we are excited to witness another nesting season for this pair.

As a falcon, common kestrels are a bird of prey. This means they feed on other animals, as opposed to insects and berries like other birds.

They also tend to have a much longer nesting period than song birds. This gives us a prolonged observation window as we witness the gradual maturation of the hatchlings into fully developed adults.

The Kestrel Nesting Season Begins

The kestrels have returned, and the excitement is palpable. What’s been happening and what can we anticipate?

The nesting season kicked off over a month ago for our dynamic kestrel duo. After solidifying their bond over the winter, they were ready to tackle parenthood once again.

Kestrel Nest Preparations

Unlike some of their fussier bird counterparts, kestrels keep it simple when it comes to nest prep. Find a ledge, scrape a hole, and voila! Home sweet home.

Our artificial nest box, filled with cozy wood chips, is like a five-star hotel for this feathered couple.

In early April, our kestrel power couple got to work, creating the perfect depression for their soon-to-be-arriving eggs. They do this by ‘belly-flopping’ onto the wood chips and scraping the hole out with their legs.

The Kestrel Eggs Arrive

On April 16th, the first egg made its grand entrance, decked out in a shiny mucus coat for the occasion. This gives kestrel eggs a glossy, red appearance upon laying and can aid us in identifying the most recently laid egg once multiple eggs are present.

First Egg in the Kestrel Nest
Kestrel female lays the first egg. Image by Nest Box Live.

Two days later, egg number two joined the party, followed by three more over the next week. That’s a grand total of five eggs, folks!

Kestrels typically lay anywhere from three to six eggs, with larger clutches indicating optimal weather or a particularly large and healthy mama bird.

Incubation Commences

Who, when and for how long?

In common kestrels, the male and female share incubation duties, though the kestrel mum takes the lead. The male kestrel’s primary role is to bring in food and protect the nest from intruders.

The parents didn’t start full-incubation until the fourth egg had been laid. Before this, they were seen occasionally sitting on the eggs but would still leave them uncovered for several hours.

But don’t be quick to label these birds as lazy! Their procrastination serves a crucial purpose in the grand scheme of survival. By delaying their incubation, they’re not just idly lounging around; they’re executing a clever evolutionary tactic. This strategic delay ensures that when the chicks finally emerge, they do so in a synchronized chorus, rather than as solitary stragglers.

This synchronized hatching significantly boosts the survival odds for the later-hatched chicks.

Kestrel Male Brings Dinner for the Female
The male kestrel (right) feeds his female companion (left). Image by Nest Box Live.

Full incubation started on the 23rd of April. From then until now, the eggs have been incubated almost all of the time, mainly by our female bird. The male brings in food for his partner and she occasionally leaves the nest to stretch her wings.

What Can We Expect Next on the Kestrel Nest?

We’re eagerly anticipating the hatching of those eggs.

Kestrel egg incubation typically spans 28-29 days, so we expect the first egg to hatch around the 21st of May.

Once those adorable fluffballs emerge, it’s feeding time! The male kestrel hunts and delivers prey, often a vole or small mouse, while the female tears the flesh into bite-sized chunks for the chicks.

It’s a fascinating sight, and we highly recommend tuning in around this time for some kestrel chick-feeding action!

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