Readers’ wildlife photos

I have figured out how to adjust the photos so you can click on them to make them larger. I’ll try to make sure I do this from now on, as it has to be done photo by photo. If you want to enlarge one but can’t, email me.

Stephen Barnard has sent some photos from Idaho, including updates on his resident American kestrels Boris and Natasha, which are apparently producing chicks (no visual proof yet) in a box he made and placed on his garage. Stephen’s notes are indented. The first four photos are from May 25; the last two arrived yesterday.

Some kestrel (Falco sparverius) photos. Still no sign of chicks.

This afternoon I went out to set up kestrel cam and found this dead vole on the tripod head. Oddly endearing. [JAC: Clearly dropped by the kestrel; maybe it was a gift, like cats sometimes leave!]
I shot this after I removed the vole and set up the camera. Natasha is  bringing a vole to the nest box. I take this as conclusive evidence that  there are chicks. Whether they’re kestrels or cowbirds remains to be seen. [JAC: A brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), a nest parasite, was seen emerging from the box once, and it’s possible it laid an egg in the nest. A cowbird chick might kill any kestrel chicks.]

18 Comments

  1. Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    One correction: I didn’t see the cowbird emerge from the box. I just saw it hanging around in the area.

  2. Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Awesome captures! Especially the one landing on the box full spread. Great timing!

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I can’t take credit for timing. The camera operates remotely and the photo is a cropped frame from a 4K video.

      • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Okay. Great camera setup, programming and editing! Still awesome!

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Whenever I see a pic of a kestrel, I remember the first time I saw one, around 5pm on a lamppost outside my office window in 1995. The year’s accurate since I only had that office for little more than a year. And FAX machines were much more a means of communication than they are now.

    I had never seen anything like it, so I quickly sketched it, with arrows indicating colors, and FAXed it to my mentor and world-class birder Hans Jörnvall, who I figured would still be at his desk at 11pm in Stockholm. About 45min later I heard the whir of the FAX. He had written John: “My first reaction is there is no such bird. But wait, I think you have drawn a kestrel. Yes! It is a kestrel! Very good!”

  4. Posted June 3, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The dead vole on your tripod was a sacrifice to the great kestrel God Stephen who provides them with a home and the bountiful fields in which to hunt.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      The vole on the tripod was very weird. I don’t know whether to take it as an offering or a warning. 🙂

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        😄 I was wondering if a vole-laden kestrel had used the tripod as a temporary perch, then took off but forgot to pick up the vole. I do the same with my office keys a few times a year.

      • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Ha. If you find a horse’s head next, you’ll know.

  5. David Fuqua
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the photo fix and the regular sciencesplaining.

  6. Melanie
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    We have kestrels here, and they are so amazing to watch “hovering”. Thanks for the beautiful photos!

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      The Hawker Siddeley Kestrel led to the Hawker Harrier that is most famous for being the hovering VTOL jet. The Brits appreciated the hovering ability of this bird of prey.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Great photos…or rather video stills.

    Sucks about the cowbird. Their chicks eat voles too I suppose. I doubt there is a good deterrent either.

  8. Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    As far as I know cowbirds are insect eaters (‘buffalo birds’ that follow the herds) and although they are brood parasites I find it hard to believe they could successfully target kestrels.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Good to know, but … kestrels eat a lot of grasshoppers as the summer moves into July.

      • Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        I had a quick search and it looks like cowbirds only brood parasitise other primarily insect eaters. In fact – unless anyone knows better – I can’t think of a bird of prey that brood parasitises or is brood parasitised. A couple of species of cuckoo will parasitise corvids though.

        • Christopher
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

          My first direct experience with a brood parasite was to witness a tiny Carolina wren feeding a nearly full-grown cowbird. Both comical and sad, but certainly interesting.

  9. Posted June 4, 2018 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    I hope their chicks are okay!


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