Watch our Kestrel Cam.
In partnership with HawkWatch InternationalMark Miller Subaru sponsors efforts to build dozens of homes (aka nest boxes) to support the conservation efforts of American Kestrel.  HawkWatch International is conducting a long-term study on Kestrels and uses nest boxes to supplement natural cavities and study their breeding behavior. The American Kestrel is the smallest, most colorful falcon in North America and their populations have been declining throughout vast swaths of their range for reasons still unknown. The Kestrel is a secondary cavity nesting bird, which means it relies on holes in trees made by decay or other birds such as Woodpeckers for nesting and roosting habitat. One theory behind their decline is loss of nesting cavities due to human development and competition from non-native, invasive species such as the European Starling. HawkWatch International works with dozens of "community science" volunteers to install and monitor nest boxes to track box occupancy, breeding success, and survival rates. The goal for all of this data is to help figure out the reasons behind population declines, so that organizations such as HawkWatch can take swift conservation action. Click here to learn more about the American Kestrel and HawkWatch International's research project, and to get involved.



What's in our box?
For the past few years, Bleu's box has been occupied by Starlings. Although we remain hopeful each year that Kestrels move in, there is still much we can learn behind the nesting ecology of Starlings and their interaction with Kestrels when competing can be fierce. First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among North America's most numerous songbirds. One of the most fascinating behaviors to witness by Starlings is a murmuration. As starlings gather in the evenings to roost, often they will participate in what is called a murmuration - a huge flock that shape-shifts in the sky as if it were one swirling liquid mass. Often the behavior is sparked by the presence of a predator like a hawk or peregrine falcon, and the flock's movement is based on evasive maneuvers. There is safety in numbers, so the individual starlings do not scatter but rather are able to move as an intelligent cloud, feinting away from a diving raptor, thousands of birds changing direction almost simultaneously. The question that has had scientists stumped is how each bird, most of them tens or hundreds of birds away from the danger, senses the shift and moves in unison?