In May of this year a student of mine found this kestrel grounded at Picture Canyon. It could not fly so we captured it and took it to Bearizona where in spite of their efforts it unfortunately died. We discovered that the injuries it suffered were due to flying too near a methane flare that is part of the Flagstaff City Water treatment plant that borders Picture Canyon. I found that little research as been done on this problem, but the current hypothesis is that the metal tube of the flame appears to the bird as a suitable perch and then the bird flies into or through the flame. The recommended solution is to have a slightly higher, and therefore more attractive, artificial perch placed near enough to the flame to offer a safe landing point but far enough to prevent injury to the birds. I contacted the city of Flagstaff and they have agreed to do this, and in fact have purchased all the material necessary and will erect it soon. I very much appreciated the city’s rapid and sincere response when notified of this problem. I was so impressed I offered to offset some of the costs of this mediation. The city is providing all the manpower and the material costs $500. I am donating $100 to offset the material cost and wondered if Northern Arizona Audubon would be interested in donating as well.
Thank you for considering this. Again, I cannot stress how responsive the city was when I alerted them to this problem. I suggest that if you choose not to make a donation, a letter thanking them for their efforts would also be much appreciated. I can send you contact information if you are interested in either or both options.
My best to you all
Professor of Biology
Editor Note: we are indebted to Dr. Theimer for his interest and for submitting this article. Regarding the City of Flagstaff, our partner at Picture Canyon Preserve, this story illustrates the environmental commitment we have seen in our association with them.