Nest Boxes for Southeastern American Kestrels
In 2009, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) initiated a kestrel nest box monitoring program in north-central Florida to expand nesting opportunities for Southeastern American Kestrels. It is important to provide artificial cavities for these birds because much of their natural nesting habitat has been lost due to urbanization and changes in agricultural practices.
Although it is clear that an overall decline in kestrel abundance has occurred over the past 70 years, current population trends are unknown. By coordinating management and monitoring efforts throughout the state, FWC will be able to more accurately determine the bird's current population status and how kestrel abundance is changing over time in response to management efforts.
How can Floridians help?
FWC is focusing primarily on coordinating kestrel nest box programs on public lands in Florida. However, large expanses of kestrel habitat occur on private lands throughout the northern and central peninsula.
Landowners may be able to help the Southeastern American Kestrel by putting up nest boxes on their property. Nest boxes should be located in relatively open areas, such as sandhills, fields, pastures, and golf courses where natural cavities are lacking. Nest boxes should be attached at a height of approximately 10-20 feet above the ground on tree trunks or wooden poles anchored firmly in the ground.
Please do not use utility poles without written permission from the local utility companies. There should be a minimum of 124 acres (50 hectares) of appropriate habitat surrounding each nest box, and individual nest boxes should be spaced approximately one-half mile from each other. Many other kinds of birds, such as Screech Owls, Eastern Bluebirds, and Great Crested Flycatchers, may also use these boxes.
There are many different designs available for building kestrel nest boxes. The most important feature is an entrance hole of the appropriate size (three inches in diameter). FWC recommends using designs that incorporate a side-opening door for ease of cleaning and inspection.