Saturday, May 19, 2012

Urban backyard wildlife

Several year ago my husband noticed small hawk like birds in our neighborhood.  After consulting a bird watching hobbyist and our friend we found otu they were Kestrels.  This sparked an interest in following and taking care of birds of prey.  He got plans and built a Kestrel nesting box placed it in our palm tree in the back yard.  That year in November when the kestrels came back to town they started taking up residence in our box.  My husband then installed a webcam in the box and we watched and shared with the world, or at least who was interested,   the lives of the kestrels in our backyard.  They layed eggs, they hatched and it was interesting to watch the the chicks grow into fully fledged birds.  This process went on for a couple of years my husband became a certified and built a pen to house injured birds of prey which he used to educate scout and school groups.  We housed red-tail hawks , and kestrels  while the wild ones flew free.  After a few years of doing this our schedules got busy income was tight and our family grew. We didn't seem to have time to take care of the birds anymore so we took down he site and returned the other birds to the wildlife rehab center that had loaned them to us.

Through the years wild kestrel continue to return to the nesting box, lay their eggs and raise a family of birds.  We have enjoyed watching them as the parents take their "kids " out for their first flights, usually around the end of May.  Last night while my oldest was in the backyard taking garbage out to the dumpster in the alley, our neighbor called over to him and handed him something over the wall, saying. "I think this belongs to you guys". It was a small very young kestrel that had fallen out of the tree, it didn't even have all of its feathers.
My son placed the little guy/girl in a bird cage, took the top section of the cage off so the parents could still get to him/her if they wanted too.  This morning my husband gave the bird a small lizard he had caught, and we've watched the parents flying and feed it through out the day.

Here is a current picture of the nesting box.  8 years ago the tree was shorter and the box was actually covered by palm fronds a nice shaded place to raise baby chicks.  We talk of trimming the tree but there is usually birds nesting there when we want to do it.
 A pic of the cage housing the young bird.  We've got it safely nestled between the citrus trees in the shade. Hubby has been putting the lid on at night so the neighborhood cats can't get in

Hopefully this video gets through okay.  You can hear the parent bird  either telling me to back off or its baby everything was going to be okay.  Either way they weren't too happy that I was there.  It amazes me how natural that protective and caring instinct occurs in the different species.  

*My husband has had several years experience in caring for injured birds of prey and working with wold life rehabilitation centers.   He is trying to keep the bird safe and at the same time facilitate the parents in caring for their kiddo.

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