We met Mark Hopey several years ago when he was working on a Wildflower and Bird Count Project on our farm. He was excited to hear that we had been observing American Kestrels on the farm, and we agreed to have him put up a kestrel box. We enjoy watching these spirited and beautiful falcons, and are happy that the population has continued to grow over the past ten years that we have been watching them. With the addition of the kestrel box more than five years ago, we have enjoyed seeing the overwintering mating pair and several groups of fledglings make their way into the valley.
There are now at least four landowners in Sandy Mush who are have kestrel boxes on their farms and are supporting the efforts of the Southern Appalachian Raptor Research Project. The American Kestrel is the smallest and the most colorful of the North American Falcons. Our kestrels perch around our farm garden area where they have good long-range field views, and we also provide mid-succession field habitat that is good cover and food source near the nesting area.
In June, we assisted Mark as he banded our four fledglings. We documented their individual banding so that we can track them within Sandy Mush; the banding actually allows tracking throughout their lifespan and habitat range. Each had their own personality so I couldn’t resist naming them. We took photos of each with their bands, and have a copy of the banding documentation so that we can track them. I am especially smitten with Maggie, pictured above, and I am very excited to share that she is still visiting the farm and doing well. We sighted her twice this week. We know that at least two of the four are doing well. Maggie and one of the males.
In case you spot an American Kestrel with banding, our June 2019 fledgings all have silver and red bands on one leg and orange with the following colors for each bird:
Dark Blue – Maggie (female)
Dark Green- Spot (male)
Light Blue – Spike (female)
White – Buster (male)
Keep a look out for our little buddies and let us know! If you are in Sandy Mush, and interested being a host site, please contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org
Terri & Glenn