The upstairs neighbors

kestrel_on_roof

The chickens live in a big 1950s-era coop with birdhouses mounted on the north and south sides. These houses have been home to many different birds in the few years we’ve lived here, and just recently I noticed some young, very noisy kestrels sticking their heads out.

young_kestrel_in_birdhouse

They’ve all left the nest now, and we have a family of 5 (I think) little falcons living around the coop. I love these birds: They’re smart, beautiful, and they chase away big hawks that might otherwise try to prey on the chickens.

And, most importantly, they’re mouse-killing machines. Living on 40 acres of pasture, it’s a constant battle to keep field mice out of the coop, the shed, and the cellar. But I haven’t seen any trace of a mouse for months, and now I know why.

kestrel_in_tree

It also explains the very agitated kestrel I found in the coop 3 mornings in a row last winter — the birdhouses are right beneath the open eaves of the chicken coop, so it must’ve gone in the wrong entrance when it went home for the night.

Kestrels do hunt small birds, but they’re way too tiny to take down any of the chickens we have now. Week-old chicks are a totally different story though, so I did what I could to raptor-proof the brooder room last spring (and I’ll definitely be double checking it before I put any more small chicks in there!)

juvenile_kestrel

But what’s a little extra hardware cloth when you can look at this face every morning?

2 Thoughts on “The upstairs neighbors

  1. AWWWW Baby Kestrels are cay-oot!

  2. Janna Mauldin Heiner on June 11, 2015 at said:

    I love kestrels! My 15-year-old daughter just got her falconry license last fall and her first two birds were kestrels–a female she called CeCe, who was chased off during a free-flying training session by two local resident birds, and a beautiful little male she called Petrie. He was an awesome bird! She got considerable notice from the regional falconry organization because of her youth, and also because Petrie was unusually well-trained to the lure (something that is a challenge with these little falcons–they usually aren’t lure birds). Petrie was released a few weeks ago and she’s suffering from lack of bird. 🙂 She’ll train with another kestrel this fall, and is pushing for a Cooper’s hawk next year (not gonna happen).

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