KESTREL NEST CAM Filmed using cameras hidden inside their nest box, Ash Hollow, this is the real life story of two very different kestrel characters.
KESTREL CHARACTERS Apollo, the male, is young and inexperienced. This is his first every breeding season and he is alternately either a little over excited or utterly overwhelmed. In contrast Athena, the female, is an older falcon and has possibly already raised chicks at least twice before. She has a nononsense approach to life and often gets impatient with Apollo's haltering attempts to please.
KESTREL COURTSHIP It is usual for male kestrels to look for nest sites and then call out for a female, hoping she approves of his choice. We pick up the story when I notice Apollo calling from a tree in a nearby ash wood, trying to attract a mate.
STRUGGLE TO FIND A MATE Unfortunately, there is competition for suitable nest sites here and each time Apollo chooses a spot, another bird species occupies it before he can attract a female to it.
KESTREL NEST BOX I decide to help Apollo out by building a new nest box especially for him. This nest was part of a wider project to improve the habitat in this woodland. Read more about it here: https://www.robertefuller.com/diary/t...
KESTREL EGGS Within days of erecting my box, Apollo calls and Athena appears. They waste no time in settling down together and starting a family. Just 10 days after their first meet, Athena lays the first of their five speckled brown eggs.
TURBULENT BEGINNINGS But Apollo's youth and inexperience often gets him into trouble with his new partner. Athena regularly berates him watch her trap the poor male kestrel against the wall as she squawks at him for not bringing her food when he arrives to help incubate their eggs.
FIVE KESTREL CHICKS HATCH Apollo soon learns who is boss and, thanks to his diligent support, five tiny chicks hatch out. With five mouths to feed, there is no longer time for squabbles and this kestrel pair soon settle into a rhythm of hunting for and feeding their chicks.
TRAGEDY STRIKES But before long they more serious challenges to overcome. It has been a cold, dry spring and the rodents that these kestrels hunt are in short supply. The nights are also freezing, with regular hard frosts.
TOUGH DECISION As the food supply dwindles, Athena decides to join Apollo hunting. She needs to balance the need to keep her chicks warm with the need for food. It’s a tough decision to have to make and sadly two chicks perish.
INTERVENTION I decide to help and begin to drop food into the nest to help the three remaining chicks survive.
KESTREL COUPLE PERSERVERE Thanks to Apollo & Athena's dogged determination, and with a little help from me, the three chicks survive.
KESTREL CHICKS Watching the chicks grow, and finally take flight is a heartening sight. After such a tough start in life these kestrels are already displaying the ferocity they will no doubt need to survive. Watch them squabble for food once Athena stops sharing it out fairly!
KEEP WATCHING You can continue to follow the lives of Apollo & Athena as they begin another breeding season on my live nest cameras: https://youtu.be/YT3Y_wiSlQ
I am a British wildlife artist based in Thixendale, North Yorkshire, UK. I build ideal habitats to encourage wildlife into my garden and use nest cams to study their behaviour. These studies inform my paintings. I share the best of my video research on this channel for free. If you would like to support my work please consider a small donation here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s...'>https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s...
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