One of the oldest kestrel nests I've encountered is located on 86th St., right across from Central Park. Ancedotal evidence suggests this nest has been active for at least 5 years. Judging by the haggard appearance of the female, I'd say it is quite possibly older. This scrape is in a convenient location, however it does pose a number of challenges. First, its located on a busy street, which endangers the birds when fledging. Second, it is very close to the 5th ave Redtailed Hawk nest, further threatening the young. Furthermore, the scrape is fairly high up...located just at the top of the 15 or so story building. It only gets morning light and is backlit afterward, thereby making direct observation difficult. These kestrels double clutch almost every year, but their territory abuts Palemale and Lola, so their young do have a high mortality rate due to predation. This is the kestrel pair seen harassing the 5th ave. pair whenever they perch on the Beresford. I visit them periodically but getting good pic can be very difficult. Here are some recent ones while I was waiting for the young to fledge.
Here she is hacking up a kestrel pellet!
I went to the ground searching for this tiny gift, but found the severed head of a sparrow fledgling instead!
Here's the male flying into the scrape.
And the female flying out to attack a sparrow over the playground (she missed)!
No doubt that House Sparrows, House finches and Starlings form the backbone of their diet. The superabundance of these prey items is one of the main reasons that kestrels exist in such numbers. Here they are cavorting without a care in the world!
What is fascinating to me is that without the presence of such large numbers of these
"invasive" and "nuisance" species--which no doubt do damage indigenous populations--kestrels, hawks and other raptors (notably Eastern Screech Owls), would not prosper in the numbers that they do. Nature abhors an ecosystem out of balance!
PS Special shout out to Bruce from Urbanhawks for following up on the Peregrine I rescued up at Bway Bridge. Its great to have some good news after so much tragedy this year!
Without further ado...here's the latest Kestrel Newsletter from Bob and Deborah, documenting more about the 86th St. kestrels, as well as some others around the City.