Use of Habitat and Perches, Causes of Mortality and Time Until Dispersal in Post-Fledging American Kestrels

  • Varland D
  • Klaas E
  • Loughin T
  • 15


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The use of habitat and perches, causes of mortality and time until dispersal of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) after they fledged from nest boxes on the backs of highway signs were studied along Interstate 35 in central Iowa. Between 1988 and 1990, radio-transmitters were attached to 61 nestlings in 47 nests just before nest departure. During the first week after fledging and before hunting began, kestrels spent substantial amounts of time perched on the ground along the interstate right-of-way and in row-crop fields. All but one of the 16 kestrels found dead died during the first week after they fledged, before their flying skills had developed. Mammalian predation accounted for six of the deaths and was the main cause of mortality. Only two deaths resulted from collisions with vehicles on the interstate. After the first week, fledgling kestrels began hunting along secondary roads and increased the use of this habitat throughout the 4 wk birds were observed. Mean time until the initiation of dispersal was 22.7 d after fledging. Only one of 17 birds recaptured in a nest box as a breeding bird was banded as a nestling.

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  • Daniel E. Varland

  • Erwin E. Klaas

  • Thomas M. Loughin

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