Posts Tagged 'kestrels'

Raptor Wednesday

More than a week after spotting three nestlings bursting at the rusty seams of their cornice nest, and then, later that same day, a female at close range on 5th Avenue, I was only seeing a total of three American Kestrels in the ‘hood. Two males and one female. I presumed it was the parents and one male fledgling.

Then, late in the day this past Sunday, I came home from some tacos and margaritas to spot three females in close proximity on the car service antenna and cell phone towers that overlook the block where the nest is.

Two extra females and one extra male add up to three youngsters in a family of five, assuming both parents are still around.

Raptor Wednesday

Saturday morning, there was movement inside the American Kestrel cavity. I could see two nestlings.

On Sunday morning, they could see me. Two females and a male. Very possibly more in this spacious rust-bucket of a cornice.

To re-cap: for three seasons, American Kestrels bred on the corner above the Valentina bodega. This spring, that cornice was painted. The painters also sealed the hole in the cornice that led to the nest. These small falcons are unique among North American raptors because they nest in cavities. Rotting cornices provide such spaces here in the city.

Within a day or two, the kestrels had a new cornice hole, a long avenue block away from their old haunts.

Through all this, and a lot more: because the block they ultimately settled on has been the scene of tremendous street construction for weeks. Nevertheless, first incubation and then raising has been going on inside this metal den above a bus stop. (Coincidently, in previous years, another 5th Avenue nest was also right above another B63 bus stop.) And now they are emerging!

Kestrels Re-Nest

Saturday afternoon, painters gentrified the cornice that American Kestrels have used as a nest since 2018. As part of that very rapid work, they closed off the rotted-out old hole up there. On Sunday, we still saw both birds from the window. But Monday morning, ominously, we didn’t have wee colorful falcons perched in the dawn.

But I noticed one of them flying and dropping below the line of the buildings about halfway down the block. Perhaps they’d already found a new nest site? (There was a Starling nest I remembered down there somewhere.) There are some very poorly-maintained cornices in this town, my friends. This is one of the reasons American Kestrels do so well here: cavity nest sites for the taking. They don’t have to depend on dead trees in the supposed “wild,” where, in fact, American Kestrels populations are not doing well.

The blue-winged male looks small here. He is smaller. And right now, the gravid female is literally at her largest.

Anyway, I had my eyes peeled as I walked down the hill to 5th Avenue. As soon as I turned the corner onto the Avenue, there was a kestrel flying my way! Oh, hello! The flying scimitar passed overhead, kitty-cornering across the street. And whoosh went the bird into a hole in a cornice.

The female came back out a few moments later and landed on a TV antenna the next block over. The male joined her. With food.

Just a snack. Looks like an Eastern Carpenter Bee.

One long avenue block away from the old site, the kestrels have a new nest. They didn’t waste any time; they didn’t have any time. Eggs are expected any moment now. Roughly a month for incubation, then another before fledgling. Late June, early July is when we should expect to see new birds.

Of course, all this means we won’t be seeing them from our windows every day. The precipitous drop in altitude between 6th and 5th Avenues means the roofline down there can’t be seen from up here. Have we been spoiled!

Some highlights of a glorious run:

Catching bugs

Just hanging around, there was always a lot of that.



Grooming, and stashing prey on our fire-escape.

Raptor Wednesday

This is, approximately, what the chapel looks like from the road.
The point here is that the female American Kestrel up there saw a two-inch long grasshopper on the road and swept down to pluck it right up. She flew back up to the chapel top to dispatch it.
Same bird, nearby.
Further afield in Green-Wood: a female who had just finished eating something and then stropping her bill.

I think I saw four separate kestrels this day, unless they were following me…
Here’s a male.

Raptor Wednesday

Spotted belly and thick black band on the outer edge of the tail.
Blue wings, strong black band again. Male American Kestrels.
Streaky belly, only a thin black band on the edge of the tail: female American Kestrels. The topside of her wings are also reddish, but we can’t see this from below.

Raptor Wednesday With Gliders

Two American Kestrel males in Green-Wood.

Hunting must be good here, because I’ve seen kestrels in this area for years. There are some great perches, with meadow below. When I was there Saturday, both Spot-winged and Wandering Gliders, the orange-y dragonflies that seem to be constantly in the air, were flying at eye-level. Kestrels eat dragonflies. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside — one supposes.

Rare to see a Wandering Glider perched. They’re on the wing most of the time. The Flying Dutchman of dragonflies.
Spot-winged Glider. They don’t perch much either, but perhaps a little bit more than the Wandering. Fairly similar, but with small dark patches at the hindwing base.
These smudges can be seen in flight…

Raptor Wednesday

Sometimes far…
Sometimes near.

The local American Kestrels. Three or four still seen most days.

Raptor Wednesday

Four American Kestrels have been lately been spotted at the same time in the neighborhood. They’re hard to count, though, since they move from pillar to post and then out of sight with great frequency.
On July 2nd, I was in Green-Wood and ran into three females and one male. Again, this is a tentative count because they were constantly moving between perches in several trees. All these photographs in today’s post are from this encounter.
This location is just about a mile away from the #BrooklynKestrels nest. We’re these four birds “ours”?
Just how many American Kestrels are in Brooklyn? In NYC as a whole? How close do they nest? Lots of questions.
I haven’t been able to check on another nest I know this year. It’s over two miles away.

Raptor Wednesday

On Sunday morning, there were five American Kestrels on and off the solar building, which is about one-third of the way down the block from here. Two males, three females. In this pic, there’s a male on the left. There are two females on the chimney, and another female on the far right pipe.
On Monday morning, there were an astonishing five females!
Five plus one male. Are all these females siblings? I would expect the mother to be hunting like mad and not perched with her chidden.

One of the female fledglings on our roof.

I wonder what they think about the fireworks? Saturday night was the worse night yet, launched from nearby in the park and from right across the street, an intermittent barrage from 10pm until 3:30am. Bursts could be seen through closed eyes.

Another Very Special Edition of Raptor Wednesday

I was worried. It’s late June. Shouldn’t I have seen these fledglings sooner? In truth, they don’t look like they came out of the nest yesterday. I suspect they’ve been out and around for a few days now.
She scrunches down before lift-off.

There was actually a young male up there, too. I’d heard somebody behind the bulkhead, but it wasn’t until the female flew that I found the source of the vocalizations.
So, at least two successful fledglings! Keeping an eye out for more.


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