A group of farmers and landowners in North Devon are trying to stop the decline of kestrels in the region by putting up nest boxes around the region, with 30 boxes now installed by the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere project.
Speaking to the BBC about the project, Mike Moser said: “Three things are affecting kestrels, lack of rough grassland where voles and other things they feed on live; good nesting sites, as we’ve lost a lot of hedgerow trees around the county and rodenticides, which are used on farms.”
Kestrels are part of the falcon family of Britain’s birds of prey and though other species of kestrel are found around the world, there is only one living in Britain and can be easily identified thanks to their pointed wings and long tails. They can often be seen hovering over grassy environments, where they hunt for small mammals and birds, as well as worms and insects. Predominantly, kestrels feed on voles and similar rodents, so keeping a vole friendly environment is important for the preservation of kestrels. It is thought that there are currently under 50,000 breeding pairs left in the UK.
Recent surveys in the area have revealed that areas with breeding kestrels have dropped by two thirds and it is hoped that providing these new boxes will help revive the local population. The birds are currently on the Amber Conservation List in the UK because of their decline. Their main breeding season is between April and July, so make sure to keep an eye out when walking around the countryside for these glorious birds this summer!