Outdoors Blog

Researchers band, examine baby kestrels at Birds of Prey

The search for answers to the massive decline of the American kestrel continues — and one piece of that research involves banding chicks born each spring in the Treasure Valley, one of the best areas for the smallest falcon.

The World Center for Birds of Prey on the south end of Boise has a nest box on the roof of the Archives of Falconry building. A webcam allows birders around the world to check on the eggs and chicks. On Monday, the staff banded and examined the chicks. They’re nearly a month old and about to leave the nest.

“We’ve lost about half of the kestrel population since the ’60s — and no one knows why,” said Chris McClure, the director of the American Kestrel Partnership that is a project of the Peregrine Fund.

The kestrel remains the most common raptor in North America. In the Northeast, the population has decreased by 88 percent.

“We’ve got time,” McClure said. “But it’s really disconcerting when you’re losing the most common species for what seems like no reason.”

Boise State runs a large nest-box program in the Treasure Valley. Researchers try to band all of the chicks and adults in about 100 boxes around the area.

Watch the banding process and learn more about kestrels in the video above.