Things have been a bit quieter of late in the kestrel nest box and I was beginning to worry that they had found somewhere more to their liking. Today, however, I was delighted to see both male and female visit the nest box, just before 6pm. It is still relatively early in the season and on checking on the RSPB site, it states that kestrels do not begin laying until the end of April. The extract below is from this site.
‘Kestrels are adaptable in their use of nest sites, but do not build their own nests. Old or disused nests of crows and other stick nesters are often used, as are ledges on cliffs and buildings. They are also regular hole-nesters and readily accept nest boxes. The same nest site is often used in successive years with some sites used for decades.
The timing of egg laying is dependent on the weather, but the female normally lays her clutch of 3-6 eggs in late April or early May. She is only able to produce eggs if she can get enough food. In years when vole numbers are low, many kestrels fail to nest at all.
The female lays the eggs at two-day intervals, and usually starts to incubate as she lays the third egg. Incubation takes 27-29 days per egg, which hatch over a period of a few days. The chicks require constant brooding for the first 10-14 days, after which they are able to control their own body temperature.
The male provides the female and the chicks with food throughout the nesting period. The female will only hunt if food is short, risking the loss of eggs or young chicks. Only as the young get bigger, can she safely start to hunt close to the nest.
The chicks fledge gradually when they are around four weeks old. They explore increasing distances from the nest, but return to it to roost for another couple of weeks. Adults continue to feed the young for a month after fledging, during which time they will learn to catch their own food. ‘
There has been quite a lot of noise recently as the two adjoining fields have been full of tractors and machinery as the farmers have been ploughing and planting potatoes. That may have scared them off for a bit. Here are a couple of screen shots from today.