Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11

Happy Mother's Day Eve

     Why start a kestrel post with Happy Mother's Day?  I think it is fitting to do that because I have not yet mentioned a very, very important partner in my kestrel work and that is my wife Janet. It has now been slightly over two months since I began the nestbox monitoring for this season.  During that time I have spent 46 of those days entirely in the field from sunrise until dark closely monitoring the boxes in my project. This is at the height of spring's renewal when there is so much to be done around the house and in the yard as the weather slowly warms up.  During these last two months my wife has stacked our firewood, hauled and stacked mounds of brush, done all the lawn mowing, turned over and planted many of the gardens, run the leaf blower for hours on end, brought up all the deck furniture from the basement, etc., etc., etc. and never once uttered a complaint about my near total absence while all this was going on. Every night when I got home, she would ask all about my day and inquire about which boxes, etc. I would be checking tomorrow. Only Janet can fully appreciate the joys and heartbreak that I have encountered during these last two months. Without her patience and understanding, there would be no Northeast Connecticut Kestrel Project. There would just be dozens of kestrel boxes filled with fat, happy starlings.  I cannot begin to thank her enough for her patience and support.......and I am far from done. It will be at least another 3 weeks of very intense monitoring before I can be certain of which boxes will have eggs and be on their way to producing healthy nestlings.  There is still lots (hopefully) of nestling banding on the horizon as well as the telemetry study that I will be collaborating on with the University of Connecticut. That study will involve harnessing 10 nestlings in  my project area with tiny transmitters a day or two before they fledge. There will be much more to come on that work as it unfolds. 
     By the middle of next week I should I have a fairly accurate count of which boxes have eggs. Until then I am working hard to keep 9 boxes starling free that MIGHT end up occupied by roaming, unattached kestrels that are in my area (we call them "floaters"). I am definitely running out of time though. With some boxes already having full clutches of five eggs, it is obvious that the vast majority of kestrels who will be setting up shop in my project area have already done so. We'll all have a clearer picture of where things stand a week from now.