Build Your Own American Kestrel Box!
Okay, first things first...you should really try to have these up by Feb. 1st for the hawks to find during their migration back to the north country, we're off by about two months, but we figured we'd see if they still might find it this year. If not, we'll clean it out and hope for next spring.
One 1" x 10" x 8' board [white pine works great!]
Two hinges (we used one and it did just fine)
1 1/2" galvanized nails
wire (you can use a 2" spring loaded safety hook too)
straw or wood shavings
spray varnish (for weather protection)
air nailer (or the old-fashioned way!)
Here is a really simple illustration we found online and then modified in several small ways--farm style as we call it! We didn't have 2 hinges, so we used one in the middle. We didn't have a latch, so we made one. Simple fixes! Here is the link to the original illustration, courtesy of the MD DNR.
1) So, assemble your box, as shown.
Make sure you have a good supervisor for the job.
Here is the bottom of our box... holes drilled for aeration (mute and condensation build up fast)
Here is the top, where we have installed ONE hinge instead of two. We also did NOT bevel the top of the lid at all, as the directions suggest. also, a photo of the main body before the lid.
This is our make-shift latch sans hook. It really looks lame but works wonderful. And, saved us a trip to town, which is about 25 miles!
Here is our finished box, pre-varnish. We just used a clear coat to help weather seal the box.
Here, I could have been more helpful (we were "post-holing" in the snow, so our little man couldn't really walk on his own.... BUT, a photo opp was just TOO tempting, so I ran ahead and dad was a good sport! The things he puts up with....
There it goes...hopefully when we check it later in the spring, ya know, when the snow might finally be gone, we will have some eggs! It's common to find other species using the box, so make sure to bone up on your egg I.D.!! Even if we get another non-target species this year, we're happy! We missed the mark for the optimal Kestrel nest-finding time, but we still wanted to get the box up on our property.
Go be a wildlife steward on your homestead! Kestrels increase in number and successful breeding by the simple placement of these boxes. They should be about 1/2 mile apart if you want more than one box up. It's also helpful to place it near the edge of a large field or open space for hunting. Place aluminum around the bottom to deter squirrels (we are still completing this step, as we DID have to go to town for that!) Have a fun time out there as a family, making your property just a little more friendly for the critters that live there!