Four baby kestrels banded to help keep track of a declining population

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PINE GROVE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Four baby kestrels were banded by Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Friday at Potter Farm in Pine Grove.

Leah Zerbe installed the kestrel nesting box on her farm after being given one by the sanctuary to replace the one her family installed 25 years ago. Soon, she discovered the chicks and shared the experience with nearby residents.

“It was really tiny but it was also really cute,” Della Drouncheck said as she held a little falcon in her hands while staff from the sanctuary banded the other three.

Dr. J.F. Therrien, Senior Scientist and Graduate Study Director at Hawk Mountain climbed up to retrieve the little falcons from the nesting box. He measured their wings and weight before banding them with a colored and numbered rings on their legs. 

Dr. Therrien says that while they remain common, the kestrel population has been steadily declining since the 1980s. With the help of farmers like Zerbe, Hawk Mountain is trying to increase  the population with its kestrel box program.

“She’s an organic farm, local farmer having a meadow that kestrel prey on and she’s providing a kestrel box so it’s the perfect combination for a successful pair,” Therrien said.

“We know that they are having babies but I never got to actually look in the box and see the babies before they fledged so it was really exciting,” Zerbe said.

Hawk Mountain has been monitoring the kestrel population for the last 50 years.

After the banding, the birds were put back in the nesting box.

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