A few weeks ago, a pair of kestrels started showing an interest in a large nest box I have up at the end of my garden. Unfortunately, the jackdaws were interested in the same box. For the last few days, the jackdaws seemed to have won as they were in and out and starting to bring in nesting materials. Suddenly, today, the kestrel male was back with vengeance and he meant business! He took an aggressive stance in the entrance of the box, and with the PTZ cam trained on the outside, I have been able to see some of the battles. The female was all around a lot today, both on the outside of the box and inside as well.
The jackdaws were not happy and they were continually mobbing and attacking the kestrels, but the male held steady, often chasing them off. The videos below show some of the many interactions they had today….
This is one of the few clips I have of both male and female outside the box…
The male also had one big battle with a jackdaw inside the box. I still have not managed to get the microphone to work on this camera, which is a real shame as there must have been some racket during this altercation! Also, this is a new camera to me and it seems to be struggling a little with the frame rate when there is a lot of movement. I will continue to play with the settings to try to improve this and to avoid the blurring we are getting. It is a big steep learning curve and projects like this, with new kit mean that there can be a lot of experimentation, especially as I am an amateur when it comes to the technicalities of these new IP cameras!
The kestrel and the jackdaw are pretty evenly matched body size-wise, with the jackdaws having a slightly bigger wingspan. The kestrel has talons and a hooked beak, yet the jackdaw can be pretty aggressive with its strong beak. The jackdaws are incredibly persistent too…. constantly mobbing and attacking. The kestrel male has been much more determined today, though, and I really hope he claims this nest box for his female.
The other times that the male and female have been inside the box have included him ‘paddling’ his feet testing the substrate and creating a hollow in which to nest. He has also been picking up and breaking small bits of substrate that is in the base of the box. The female seems to just look around at the moment, deciding whether this is the right place to nest this year.
The next week or so will determine whether this pair are gong to be successful in claiming this box. Such battles over good nesting locations will be common in the wild. I really hope they win! Doing a bit of research, they usually start breeding in April/May but this can be very weather dependent. They ;ay one clutch of eggs (between 4-9). Incubation is 27-29 days by the female. The chicks fledge between 27-39 days old. It will be brilliant season if they do breed here!