Friday, September 11, 2015

Kestrelmania - Part 4

All good things must come to an end.

This Orchard Street kestrel family was a joy to observe.  I spent the most time with them than I have with any other kestrels.  This last summer, there were several kestrel pairs nesting on the Lower East Side, but I had to choose to spend time with just one and I feel fortunate this pair allowed me to do so.

Both parents worked tirelessly to feed their four kids.  Mama K was especially dazzling.

Mama kestrel

She'd deliver food to the nest cavity, spend a few seconds checking on everyone, then it was off on another shopping trip.  All day long.

Mama kestrel

While Mama was out, Papa K would make deliveries to the ever-demanding kids.

Here comes dad

I love that his coloring matched that of the weathered cornice.

Papa kestrel

He really is a beauty.

Papa kestrel

Eventually, it was time for the kids to move out of that overcrowded tenement.

Big baby

This baby made several timid attempts to step outside...

Almost, but not quite

I did not personally witness any of the fledges.  I really wish I had, as things might have turned out differently.

The first two apparently fledged at the same time and were standing/sitting on the sidewalk below the nest when a neighbor with good intentions found them.  The neighbor thought they were in trouble, so called animal control and the birds were taken away.  This broke my heart as the kestrels were merely learning to fly and could have been moved to a safer location like a ledge where their parents could tend to them.  As they were taken away from their parents, they were never able to learn to hunt or learn any other life skills, and I do not know the fate of those birds.

The third fledge ended up in the street and was killed by (I presume) a car.  No one saw it happen, but a fellow kestrel-watcher saw the aftermath.  After spending so much time with this family and seeing all the energy spent raising these babies, the news of the death made me heartsick. I didn't want to return to the nest for fear that what ever happened next would be too painful.

However, the fourth fledge made it.  I didn't see it fly out of the hole, but another kestrel-watcher saw it perched across the street from the nest and it was with its parents.  A 25% success rate for this family.

Soon after the nest emptied, Mama and Papa K took to mating again, so I wondered if they'd re-nest.  If they did, they chose not to use the same location and I did not see them again after about a week.

Mama kestrel
Mama Kestrel on her favorite look-out perch.

All is not lost in Kestrel Land, though.  Stay tuned for more in another part of the city...

Previously:
Kestrelmania 2015 - Part 3
Kestrelmania 2015 - Part 2
Kestrelmania 2015 - Part 1