KESTRELS, KESTRELS, KESTRELS!
By Rafael Galvez
American Kestrels kept migrating southward throughout the day. We kept the site open more than an hour later than usual and the kestrels just kept moving! Our day’s total for the species was 401. All photos below by Ted Keyel taken October 27, 2012.
There has been much concern about the American Kestrel over recent years. Below is an excerpt from the Raptor Population Index 2011 Analysis on eastern North American population trends for the species:
The trends in counts for this species continue to raise alarms as numbers remain lower than those recorded during the 1980s and 1990s and no population rebound is evident. One small positive note is the stability in counts since 2005 at many sites and over the long-term in Quebec. Despite these glimmers of hope, there is cause for conservation concern for this species across the region.
The American Kestrel is having its best season at the Florida Keys in the last decade. To date, we have tallied 2775 individuals of the species for the season. Although this is well below the 4338 tallied during 2001, this season shows a marked improvement over the last nine years’ totals.
Today, we experienced a stellar day of kestrel migration, with many birds flying low near the observation platform, giving us fantastic looks. Although the completely clear skies held the potential for difficult spotting conditions, the blustery winds (gusting up to 32 km/h) kept all birds low and easily visible. And the kestrels just kept on shooting through, averaging roughly 1 a minute, but often coming 3 or 4 at a time.
Along with the 435 American Kestrels tallied on October 20 of this year, these have been the highest single day counts for the species at the Keys for nearly a decade. Today’s flight was truly a remarkable sight!