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Our Free Newsletter: The Birder Alert!
American Kestrels: Nest Box Placement
Ok, so you have built a kestrel nest box and now it is ready to be used by these small falcons. But it needs to be located in the correct habitat and on the proper structure to have a chance to attract the kestrels and also for them to nest successfully.
American Kestrel Nestlings
Photo Courtesy of Megan Hines
American Kestrels hunt in open fields or sparse woodland. If you have a location like this, that is where you want to place the nest box. That doesn't mean that is the only place to put a nest box.
I once lived in neighborhood with lots of large trees, but there were open fields less than a quarter mile (400 meters) away. I was able to attract kestrels and they fledged four young.
Where to mount the Nest Box
I have seen them placed on poles, posts, trees, backs of roadway signs and even on the sides of public buildings, so "city-folk" can try to attract Kestrels too.
Kestrels have used nest boxes from 8 - 30 feet above the ground. I have never placed a box below 10 -12 feet, but 10-20 feet should work for most situations, just be careful.... Kestrels can fly... you can not.
Orientation of Nest Box
If you have a choice about which side of the tree, pole or building, to place the box, think about which direction you want the box to face and which direction will offer some shade.
In the Northern Hemisphere, most of the strongest storms come from the West (South-west to North-West), so we don't want to face the box to the West.
In the Summer, the hottest part of the day is usually noon - afternoon, where the sun moves from the South - to the West, so we don't want the box to be in the direct sun if possible.
In general, nest boxes should face East (towards the rising Sun).
Depending upon where and how high you place the nest box, you may need to prevent predators. Kestrels can mount a strong defense against predators, but they are still vulnerable, especially at night.
Raccoons, cats and snakes are very good climbers, so trees and poles are within easy reach for them.
Poles and small trees can be wrapped with metal flashing or PVC pipe to prevent predators from climbing.
Thin wooden poles and most metal poles are almost impossible for predators to climb.
Nest boxes attached high on the sides of barns, silos, building and tall signs
are relatively safe.