Kestrels are normally faithful birds, choosing a lifelong mate and briefly separating each winter before reuniting to raise a family every year.
Four years ago, says Robert, this incumbent kestrel (above) was a bit of a scoundrel when it set up home with a mistress while his wife was sitting ont he nest
But four years ago, says Robert, the incumbent kestrel was a bit of a scoundrel: he set up home with a mistress while his wife was sitting on the nest.
For two years he raised parallel families — and fierce fights broke out between the female birds.
The mistress even had a go at her rival’s fledgling babies. In 2018 the poor wronged wife died in such a fight, leaving three chicks to feed.
Robert felt compelled to intervene and hand-reared the chicks.
As for the rotter and his mistress? They haven’t been seen since 2019.
But this looks like love at first sight
Mr Kes II is first to arrive in late autumn 2019, followed by the female bird who will become his mate.
Although kestrels mature when they are a year old, many do not manage to secure a mate and breeding territory until their second year, and this pair looked to be getting ready for their very first family.
After a winter courtship, the newly weds select a nest box crafted from an ash stump as their first home together.
After a winter courtship, the newly weds select a nest box crafted from an ash stump as their first home together
Let’s find a family home
In September 2020, Robert spots the birds scoping out the sycamore nest box, hopefully with a view to the coming breeding season.
Unlike some birds, kestrels don’t build nests, preferring instead to find a hollow in a tree — or a cosy nest box — in which to ‘scrape’ a shallow depression into which she can lay her eggs.
As he gets broody, Mr Kes woos his female with gifts of mice — to prove what an excellent father and provider he would be.
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