American Kestrel Monitoring

Jim Armbruster – Research Coordinator

Nestling kestrel shows off its wings and new band

Our latest American Kestrel Monitoring Project is an aspect of fulfilling the VINS’ mission that utilizes our expertise in working with raptors and leverages our network of dedicated followers.

American Kestrel populations are experiencing declines throughout their range according to data from breeding bird surveys and nest box monitoring programs. In Vermont there have been “recent negative population trends in Atlas (Renfrew 2013) and BBS data for VT (NS) and survey-wide (Sauer et al. 2011). [Kestrels] were listed as Species of Special Concern in 2009 with a concern about population in the Northeast as a whole. Development of farmland, habitat succession, West Nile virus, and changes in farming practices are issues in the northeastern US that appear to affect these populations.” (Vermont Fish and Wildlife Action Plan)

Five nestlings with bands wait impatiently to get put back in their nest box

VINS’ looks to combine community action with field research in an effort to help restore and protect this vulnerable species in our region. VINS’ along with a dedicated volunteer bander, Dave Merker, have established a network of approximately 30 nest boxes throughout the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. These boxes are installed on private property and are either monitored by the property owner or a staff member.

View of the field near the nest box

By taking over this project we look to expand this network to include more boxes and successful breeding pairs. We have created a map of box locations and will continue to search for and engage land owners with suitable habitat for kestrels. Through our educational programming we hope to inspire people to build and install nest boxes on their properties and monitor as part of our ongoing project.

Home sweet home for this kestrel family

VINS will also be collaborating with other organizations to investigate potential causes for kestrel declines. We are currently partnering with Middlebury College to sample for mercury in birds that come through or rehab department. As part of our kestrel monitoring we hope to expand feather collection to kestrels utilizing our nest boxes. With land owner permission there is also potential to sample soils for the presence of mercury at nest locations. We have also been sending deceased kestrels from our rehab department to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania as part of their project sampling for agricultural contaminants in wild populations. Any deceased kestrels encountered in the field would also be sent to their lab.

This complete look at kestrel populations will better help us understand their movements and factors causing declines. Our findings will allow us to better educate our participating landowners and audiences in programs and on social media on ways to take action to conserve this species.

Email Jim Armbruster for info on how to host a box


  1. Wayne speyrer on July 9, 2021 at 10:33 am

    My 42 acres in Weathersfield would be good address for kestrel box placement. The picture looks just like our property. Would love to be considered and involved going forward. Site inspection easily arranged.
    Wayne Speyrer
    Cell 518 630 9191.
    Call, text, email fine.

    • Jim Armbruster on July 9, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Wayne,

      Sounds like a perfect spot! Would you be able to send me an email and I can get you more info about hosting a box.

      • Fiona Blunden on July 9, 2021 at 12:45 pm

        We live near the Windsor grasslands WMA.
        We put up one box of our own and had a pair of kestrel nest this year. Happy to put up another one.
        Fiona and John MacGovern

  2. Giavanna Munafo on July 9, 2021 at 11:40 am

    We live on 34 acres above Rte 5 S. in WRJ, just before the Hartland line. Quiet, quite high up. We’d love to host a box.

    • Jim Armbruster on July 9, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      We would love to have you host a box! Can you send me an email and I will get you more info.

  3. Barbara Peck on July 9, 2021 at 11:47 am

    We would host a box in Hartland on Advent Hill Road–Also large acreage, quiet and high up.

  4. Fiona Blunden on July 9, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    We live near the Windsor grasslands WMA.
    We put up one box of our own and had a pair of kestrel nest this year. Happy to put up another one.
    Fiona and John MacGovern

  5. Katherine Babbott and Tom Ward on July 9, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Good Morning! We live in Thetford Center abutting the Union Village Dam conservation area. Would love to know if we could host a box. We also have a 10-acre lot near Lake Fairlee abutting 30 open acres.

    Katherine Babbott & Tom Ward

  6. Colleen Kube on July 9, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I could host a box in E. Wallingford. I’ve had kestrels in the field down the road…one side is a hayfield…the other is a heifer pasture. I have seen them hunting on both sides in years past, but not the last 2 years.

  7. Pamela & Richard Lee on July 9, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    This sounds fascinating! We live in West Lebanon, NH with a small quarter acre yard situated adjacent to a large municipal field. I often see Kestrels sitting on a wire outside our home and would love to host a box.

  8. Jim Jeffers on July 9, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    I’d like to volunteer for a kestrel box. I’m new to area. Live midway on river between Hanover and Lyme

  9. Jeannie Kornfeld on July 10, 2021 at 1:06 am

    I put up a kestrel box in April that I got from Dave Merker and it is nailed to a tree along side our field in Norwich VT near the Norwich Farm on Turnpike Rd. I have not seen any kestrels near the box. How long should I leave it in this location? Thanks!

  10. Irina Mirsky-Zayas on July 10, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    What are the requirements of the environment which would provide the best breeding spot? We live in Ryegate, VT on one acre spot near a lake but have a large field next to our property. We would be happy to put up a kestrel box, but would like to maximize the potential.
    Thank you.

  11. Steve Eisenauer on September 5, 2021 at 1:50 am

    Nice project. Are you in contact with Brian Lowe, who banded 148 kestrel young in his VT boxes last year? Let me know if you need his contact information. If you get any successful boxes please let me know so I can include the data in our Northeast Annual Report for kestrel nest boxes.


    Steve Eisenhauer

Leave a Comment