Southeastern American kestrels respond to an increase in the availability of nest cavities in north-central Florida

John Smallwood, Michael W. Collopy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

We conducted a nest-box study from 198993 in north-central Florida, in an effort to increase the population of the threatened Southeastern American Kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) and to evaluate the effect of providing artificial nest sites on the local population. A total of 388 nest boxes were erected in the experimental area. Over 75 of these nest boxes were placed >250 m away from roadside transects we established. This enabled us to measure changes in population density without the potential bias associated with the concentration of kestrels at specific nest-box sites. Annual censuses were conducted along 20 16-km transects to quantify population density in the control (no nest boxes) and treatment zones. Breeding attempts in nest boxes increased during each year of the study. Kestrel densities along the experimental transects increased from 5.0 birds/100 km2 to levels equivalent to the control zone within 3 yr of nest box placement (32.3 vs. 34.9 birds/100 km2). Kestrels preferred nest boxes in sandhill habitats over those in hammock habitats, and nesting attempts in sandhills had greater hatching rates, more fledglings produced, and greater overall nesting success. Compared with sites with nest boxes that were not used by kestrels, sites with selected nest boxes were characterized by having more longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), and ground cover <10 cm in height, and less broadleaf deciduous trees, oaks (Quercus spp.), roadside berms, hayfields, water, and gravel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Raptor Research
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

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Keywords

  • Breeding
  • Density
  • Falco sparverius paulus
  • Habitat
  • Nest box
  • Population growth
  • Southeastern American Kestrel

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