Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kestrel Raids Nest Box

While walking the field trail I heard a commotion of Tree Swallows just beyond the next small hill.  Babies were yelling and adults were excitedly giving their distress call.  I assumed a predator was at work and hurried ahead with the expectation of finding a Black Rat Snake making a meal of baby birds.  Instead, I saw this American Kestrel perched atop the bird box.

The parent birds were in the air doing their best to encourage the kestrel to move on.

All they could manage was to make the Kestrel duck as they came over its head.

Then the Kestrel dropped down to the front of the box and made a determined effort to reach the young birds inside.

There was a great amount of flapping and shifting of position as the Kestrel worked to get its head and neck through the nest box entrance.  I expected a baby Tree Swallow to be pulled free at any instant.

The Kestrel was not rewarded for its effort.  This model bird box has an extra piece added to the front that extends the depth of the entrance hole.  The intent of this design is to make it more difficult for predators to reach in and down to the nest.  Apparently it is doing its job.

But the Kestrel just couldn’t resist giving it another try.

This must have given the young birds quite a scare.  The Kestrel has its full neck thrust into the box and its head is surely hanging just above the babies.

That had to be one frustrated bird.  No amount of trying was going to result in a meal being taken from this box.

Finally, the Kestrel turned its back and gave up.  I watched it make five separate attempts to reach the nestlings and it had obviously made some attempts before I arrived on the scene.  After resting for a moment, it flew off across the field and disappeared.  A minute later, the parents were back with food for the youngsters and life went on as before.

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