Here is an update from Dan Mummert of the PA Game Commission. VFAS donated 10 kestrel boxes to this initiative.
The PGC now has 320 kestrel boxes in 8 counties of southeastern PA. Roughly half of these boxes are on PGC State Game Lands and other public lands and the other half on family farms. This year, 101 of the 320 nestboxes were used by kestrels and had at least one kestrel egg laid in them. Eleven of these nests ultimately failed in fledging young, but 377 kestrel chicks and two adults were banded from 90 successful nestboxes. In addition, the PGC program assisted Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s ambitious research project that’s working to learn why kestrels are declining throughout North America. With the help of PGC, researchers from Hawk Mountain placed 20 radio transmitters on kestrels from our nestboxes. These kestrels are now being tracked by Hawk Mountain interns to learn more about their movements and the importance of different habitat types for their survival. Researchers from Hawk Mountain also took blood samples from 27 nestlings from the program’s nestboxes that will be used to study whether or not environmental toxins such as rodenticides or herbicides may be a possible cause for the decline in kestrels. PGC also helped provide data related to prey availability and the types of habitat surrounding a number of our nest boxes.