PGC biologist Dan Mummert has provided us with these 2020 results:
The PA Game Commission’s American kestrel conservation program for southeastern PA is managed by PGC biologists Lauren Ferreri and Dan Mummert with support from PGC land managers and a team of citizen scientist volunteers. During the 2020 nesting season, all kestrel nest boxes were monitored every other week through the nesting season (May 1 – July 1) using protocol developed by the Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Project. All nestlings of banding age were banded using standard protocol.
In 2020, there were 260 kestrel boxes monitored for nesting success. In total, 131 of the nest boxes were on private properties, 88 were on 10 different State Game Lands, and the remaining 41 nest boxes were on other public lands including county parks, water authorities, nature preserves, and land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. Boxes were primarily installed on utility poles, wooden posts, or sides of barns or similar buildings.
In 2020, there were 83 nest boxes used by kestrels as an active nest site as defined by having at least one egg being laid. Fifty-two of these nesting attempts were successful and in total produced 226 nestlings that were all banded and assumed to have fledged. In addition, five adults were banded during the nesting season making a total of 231 kestrels banded.
In contrast, 31 of the active nests ultimately failed. Most nest failures seem to be related to eggs not hatching due either to eggs sitting unprotected on the nest box floor due to loss of the wood shaving nest substrate, or eggs simply not hatching for unknown reason.
In the coming year, we plan to experiment with a two-layer nest substrate of coarse wood shavings over finely shredded mulch to see if this helps increase nesting success. We also plan to continue expanding this conservation program into additional parts of southeastern PA with a focused effort on Chester County in 2021-2022. We are excited to have VFAS as a new conservation partner helping us make this kestrel program a great success.