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Kestrel Incidental Take Permits

How to know if a permit is necessary

Perched bird

The southeastern American kestrel (hereafter, kestrel) is a state-Threatened species, and take of kestrels, as defined in Rule 68A-27.001(4), F.A.C., is prohibited without a permit. Activities such as residential and commercial development can result in incidental take, which is take that occurs as a result of otherwise lawful activities. Common forms of take for kestrels include:

  • Removal of kestrel nest cavities (kestrels nest in cavities created by other species, often in dead trees),
  • Harassment of breeding kestrel pairs, which can be avoided by working outside of a 490-foot buffer from active kestrel nest cavities (i.e., cavities with eggs or young),
  • And Significant Habitat Modification, which includes loss or modification of habitat that significantly impairs foraging and nesting (please refer to the Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for the Southeast American Kestrel [Guidelines] for information on how to determine if Significant Habitat Modification is likely to occur).

Kestrels inhabit open areas with low vegetation dominated by grasses and with minimal tree canopy cover (0-25%). Kestrels prefer frequently burned sandhill communities but will also use grassland, pasture, agricultural areas, and utility rights-of-way near open habitat. The kestrel Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines provide recommended survey methods to determine if kestrels are present on a site.

How to apply for a permit

If take is unavoidable, landowners, or their designated agent, can apply for an incidental take permit in FWC’s online permitting system. Please note that incidental take permits currently are referred to as Migratory Bird Nest Removal permits in the online permitting system. Applicants should include the Kestrel Supplemental Application with their online application materials. The Guidelines provide additional information to help applicants provide a complete application.

The FWC can issue an incidental take permit when there is scientific or conservation benefit to the species. Although applying for a permit is free, achieving scientific or conservation benefit is achieved through minimization and mitigation options (see Table below and Guidelines). If kestrel nest boxes are used in mitigation, the kestrel report form should be returned with annual reports via the online permitting system. Kestrel nest box placement and monitoring must follow Appendix B in the Guidelines.

Mitigation Options

Form of Take Combination Permit Duration Financial Only (per nest cavity or kestrel pair)
Harassment of nesting pair Install and maintain 1 nest box for 3 years (no monitoring requirement) 3 years $1,500
Removal of Inactive Nest Cavity Install and maintain 2 nest boxes for 5 years + $500 (monitor only for first 3 years, maintain all 5 years) 5 years $6,000
Significant Habitat Modification (may also include removal of Inactive Nest Cavity) 1. Scientific benefit, or 2. Habitat restoration, acquisition, or conservation easements, or 3. Combination of two or more of the options below: (a) research, monitoring, educational projects; (b) habitat restoration, land acquisition, or conservation easements; or (c) financial mitigation Varies $20,000

Note that removal of Inactive Nest Cavities in man-made structures does not require a permit as long as all conditions in the Man-Made Structure Policy are followed.