By James Duncan
Woods Mill Learning and Engagement Officer
We’re delighted to announce and showcase the fledging of the Woods Mill kestrel chicks. Thanks to generous support from ScottishPower Foundation we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the trials and tribulations of the kestrels throughout their breeding season. 2018 has been a bumper year for the kestrel family and it is indeed the very first time that six have fledged from the nest box! We’ve had three and four regularly, five on rare occasion, but never six. The adults birds have done an incredible job of supplying enough food for the ravenous developing young. During the season we’ve witnessed voles, mice and young birds being fed to the chicks. However, the surprise has been just how many brown rats the adults have captured. This seems to have made a tremendous difference in the sheer volume of food, no doubt assisting the survival of the entire brood.
The kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, is still an amber listed bird in the UK, with an approximate 29% decline in breeding numbers in recent years. It’s fantastic to be able to revel in individual breeding success, increasing the hope of steadily expanding our resident population. Our first chick fledged at around 32 days, with the final two fledging today, at 36 days, fairly typical times for a kestrel. The young will gradually explore further from the nest site, but may return to roost for another couple of weeks. They’ll continue to be dependent on the adults for around a month after fledging, during which time they’ll learn to catch their own food. Unusually for raptors, kestrels tend not to display aggression between siblings and they may well perch, roost and fly together before dispersing into their own territories.
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