Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Help sought in caring for kestrels

North America's smallest and most colorful falcon is the American Kestrel, a robin-sized bird that prefers open habitat, such as fields and prairies interspersed with trees that can be used as hunting perches.  During the past several years, kestrel populations have gradually declined across North America, especially in the Northeast and in Appalachia. Because of this decline, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA) in Morgantown, is partnering with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) to give kestrels extra help to maintain healthy populations in the Mountain State.  The DNR has provided nest boxes and the ACCA is partnering with landowners to install and monitor nest boxes.  Individuals are wanted, especially in Monongalia and Preston counties, to install, and monitor, kestrel boxes on their property.  To participate contact Doug Gilbert at dgilbert11188@gmail.com.
Kestrels hunt mice, voles and other small mammals that are often considered a nuisance.  These little birds nest in holes in trees, a rare commodity in today's world since dead trees near open areas are often cut down.  Nest boxes placed on utility poles, highway signs or living trees are used to mitigate this problem.
"Kestrels are an important part of our natural heritage.  They are a charismatic species that people enjoy watching and they are indicators of healthy pasturelands in West Virginia.  Conservation biologist are worried about their declines, but also excited about the opportunities for citizen science and partnership to buffer their populations against decline," said Dr Todd Katzner, a WVU research assistant professor and founding board member of ACCA.
Info on ACCA: www.accawv.org.
If you find an injured bird, call 304-906-5438.                                 

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