June 6, 2103
First young birds of the year :)
Hello everybody- I'm sorry for the absence of recent posts, but this is a very busy season for my bird photography business. My wife and I are leaving for vendor fairs that will run from tomorrow morning (Fri.) until Sunday evening. That, coupled with continuing long days in the field, have made it difficult for me to find the time for posting. I have confirmed eggs in 22 boxes. There may be another box or two that end up having eggs in them, but at this point in the season what you have now is probably what you will end up with. The starlings have been absolutely swarming some of the boxes that I had high hopes for so, for the first time since I have been running this project, I am actually closing those boxes up for the season. Above is a picture from yesterday that shows the young that were in the first box that had eggs this year. The typical clutch size for kestrels is 4-5 eggs. There are four healthy young in this box, approximately 8-10 days old. If you look closely at the right front corner of the box, you will see an egg in the box that is obviously infertile. The adults have long since stopped incubation.
Timing is everything. I am now conducting what I call pre-banding box visits. The young should ideally be banded between the ages of 14-18 days old. At those ages their legs have reached adult size and the primary feathers have developed fully enough so that the birds can be accurately sexed. The question is- How do you know when they are at that age without being able to see them? The only way to know is to go up into the box when you predict that they are 5-10 days old, have a look and then fine tune your final banding date from that. I will give a more detailed explanation of incubation/hatching/banding timing in my next post. I've got to run now, but there will be more posts coming as soon as I can find the time.