Raising Kestrels

For past few weeks I’ve been watching an amazing live feed from the kestrel nest box at Woods Mill, the headquarters of Sussex Wildlife Trust. There are half a dozen chicks in the box, and the adults are working feverishly to keep them fed. I’ve been down there a couple of times to watch the adults at work.

The feeding goes on throughout the day. The male tends to arrive and drop off the prey, but the female takes more time in the nest. The chicks can feed themselves now, but in the first days she would distribute the food across the brood taking care that all the chicks received a share.

These photos were taken today over the course of a few hours. I was set-up well away from the nest so these are all moderately heavy crops. I used a 500mm lens, sometimes with a 1.4x extender. For the majority I locked the focus on the box and waited for the adult to fly across the same plane. Plenty of misses, but far easier than trying to track a bird that appears from nowhere against a dark background.

The male delivering a vole 

The female with a rat for the hungry brood

The male again

The male with a young rat wood mouse

kestrel with prey (wood mouse)

Female kestrel leaving the nest

The male leaving the nest

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens. I used a 1.4x extender on a couple of the shots.

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  1. Darko June 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm #

    I could see 4 chicks in a nest but that’s a lot, I didn’t think they have more than a couple at a time. They must be killing themselves to feed them 😀

    • Words June 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

      I think all six are still there, but it’s getting harder to see them all in shot on the cam feed. Odds are though that they won’t all make it. As for the parents killing themselves… it’s more that they are killing every rodent they clap eyes on. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.