March Program: Audubon Helping Kestrels with Nest Box Partnership


                American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations are declining throughout their North American range. Here in the Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau Breeding Conservation Region (BCR), USGS Breeding Bird Surveys show a 64% decline in American Kestrels since 1966. The cause for declining population trends is unknown. In addition, the natural history of this spectacular falcon is undefined throughout our high desert unique ecosystem.

                The International Raptor & Falconry Center (IRFC) and Northern Arizona Audubon Society (NAAS) have partnered with Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) to help understand the kestrel’s decline in Northern Arizona. The American Kestrel Nest Box Partnership (AKNB) will yield data on phenology (seasonal timing of nest initiation), occupancy (% of nest boxes occupied by kestrels), productivity (number of nestlings in the nest), and survival (number of nestlings fledged from the nest). IRFC officially has joined in a Western Hemispheric Nest Box Monitoring Program sponsored by the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP).

                The March 15 program of Northern Arizona Audubon Society will focus on the Nest Box Partnership and conservation efforts in Northern Arizona. In addition, this program will outline Partnership’s goals as well as how NAAS members and others can become  citizen scientists collecting valuable data that will contribute to the understanding of Northern Arizona’s tiniest falcon!

                In 2017, four nest boxes were installed within NAAS Bird Sanctuaries – two boxes at Kachina Wetlands, a third at Bubbling Ponds and a fourth at Picture Canyon. In 2018, more nest boxes are being installed throughout Northern Arizona including one each at Red Rock State Park in Sedona and Oak Creek School in Cornville. Data will be collected for each nest box monitored by IRFC throughout the nesting season and given to AZGFD for analysis. Kestrel Nest Box kits will be available to purchase at the program for $25.

                The program speaker will be Michele Losee, Executive Director of IRFC, and NAAS board member. Michele is a raptor ecologist and master falconer with a real passion for educating the public about her favorite birds… raptors. Michele is a Master Falconer and a PhD Candidate at Antioch University New England with research focusing on Golden Eagle population dynamics for the entire state of Arizona. Additionally, she holds a BS in Biology and a MS in Environmental Policy and Management.

                For more than 15 years, she has been involved in raptor rehabilitation and public education with various organizations such as the Northern Arizona Audubon Society, National Zoo and the International Centre for Birds of Prey. She is a member of many organizations such as North American Falconers’ Association, the Raptor Research Foundation, and the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators.

                The Flagstaff presentation will be at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church/Benson Hall beginning at 7:00 pm on March 15. The Sedona presentation will be in the Sedona Public Library on March 21 at 7:00PM.  Programs are free and guests are welcome.

NOTE: American Kestrels are easily disturbed from potential nesting locations; therefore, if you see the nest boxes, please give the breeding pair their space and do not disturb them.