The 2020 story of the kestrel in Théding:
New topsoil for the nest box
Since the hawks' absence in front of our webcams in 2019, a new layer of soil was tested for 2020. This soil is composed of a mixture of wood chips, straw and pine bark. This mixture has already proved successful in other kestrel nesting boxes. It is more like natural soil, which birds can find in the wild (for example, by using old crows' nests).
Temporary spy webcam.
The camera went "online" in the kestrels nesting box on 25/02/2020. However, for this start of season, a mini spy camera is used. The camera with the hidden lens (without reflection) is fixed at the top of the nest box; it does not have infrared vision. Thus, we limit the risks of disturbing the installation of kestrels in the nest box. If the hawks came to settle here, then the cameras (indoor and outdoor) will take over. So the question is : Will the falcons visit and adopt the nest?
1st visit to the nest box with a fight
This year, we had to wait until March 27 to see the falcons in the connected nest box. A young couple have been visiting the nest since that day but appear to be chased away by another couple already present nearby. What will happen next? ...
The 1st egg!
1st egg laid on April 20. However, it was not the usual nesting box that was chosen but a larger one located 2 meters from the 1st. The current system does not allow correct viewing of the entire nest. It will take a few days for 2 new cameras to replace the existing installation.
The chosen new nest box
Here are photos of the nest box selected for the year 2020. Placed during winter 2017-2018, visited but never chosen until now. This nest box has a more spacious "niche", a "corridor" (the corridor corresponds to the size of the nest box used in previous years) and an exterior platform. This nest box protects the brood more effectively from inclement weather but also from the sun. The young are not at risk of falling from the nest.
The 3rd egg arrived on April 24 with the 2 new cameras (indoor and outdoor). The cameras are high definition (4 megapixels) infrared, with possible use of microphone and zoom.
The female discovers the new camera
After the installation of the new cameras on April 24, the female inspects the novelty at length. In the end, the couple accepted the new material very well. To be notified when new videos are added, subscribe to the YouTube channel by clicking on the "view more" button below.
Brooding began when the 4th egg was laid on April 28. Now, the female spends her time in the nest box, replaced occasionally by the male for time to feed. In this video, a beautiful mouse is brought to the female. The male will settle on the eggs to keep them warm while she consumes her prey. But the male is not patient enough , he leaves the nest before the female returns.
Visit of pigeons to the falcon nest
The pair of pigeons nesting next door allowed themselves a little excursion, but very fast ...
In 2020, a total of 5 eggs will have been laid, at 2-day intervals, from April 20 to 28. The matings continued until May 02.
Barn owl attacks
A barn owl made its appearance on May 05, a first quick visit to the platform, the falcon issues a warning. The owl returns to the charge on May 07 , in the middle of the night attacks the kestrel which incubates its eggs. Lots of violence in this video but the falcon defends itself very well.
Isis and Horus, are the names of our new couple of kestrels
After a vote over 10 days, the names Isis and Horus won the contest (61 votes out of 127 total) and here is our couple of hawks from Théding baptized! In the photo, the female on the left with a prey brought by the male (on the right)
Night visit of a barn owl
On the night of May 20 to 21, a barn owl makes a short visit to the Falcon Platform. No fight this time, just an audible warning from the female kestrel.
A new male?
The male was last seen at the nest box on May 20 at 10 a.m. No one replaced the female during her outings at 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. On May 21, the female seems disturbed, she leaves and enters the nesting box constantly. In fact, another male is around and courting the female. In this video, he even approaches the nesting box: the female seems to accept him. There have even been matings (off-camera). But will the male accept the brood? Or will the female drop the 5 eggs?
On May 23 around 2 p.m. the 1st falcon arrived! 'Piou-piou' have been heard since the day before. The little one was quickly fed with food placed in reserve a few hours before his birth.
Births of 2nd and 3rd falcons
The 2nd and 3rd falcons arrived together between 6.30am and 7.30am on May 24th. They were quickly fed by the female.
Birth of the 4th falcon
Later that day on May 24, the 4th falcon pierced its shell in front of the camera. We were able to observe the scene while the other falcons were being fed. There is only one egg left.
The new male brings prey
The male from the start of the season disappeared on May 20. The next day, he was replaced by another. The latter mates with the female and brings her prey. The female can thus continue to rear her brood. Often the offerings are exchanged off camera, but in this video the male brings a mouse to the outside platform.
The female talks to the camera
[Toc-toc !] "It's me, Madam Kestrel, I hope you enjoy following our life through this camera ?!" (May 28)
The new male discovers the falcons
On May 28, during the absence of the female, the new male took the opportunity to observe the falcons very closely ... Finally, he prefers to stay outside.
1 week !
On May 31, the 5 falcons celebrate their 1st anniversary week! They are well fed, as in this video we can see the sharing of the meal (a bird) by the female. We can also notice that the reserve is well filled: a prey in the lower left corner and another in the upper left corner.
A huge prey for the meal
At the start of the day on June 2, the female brings back larger prey than usual. As often, the preys brought to the young hawks are already cleared of the head. So difficult to identify it, but we can guess the little rabbit / hare legs?
A restless meal
The falcons are now 2 weeks old, they have a very large appetite. We can see in this video of June 08, that the mother has a lot of difficulties to share the meal between each little one. All would have liked to swallow the entire prey !!
Quarrel over an orvet
Everyone wakes up very quickly to steal the prey brought by the mother to the nest. No sharing during this moment: the orvet is swallowed whole by one of the falcons. (06/10)
Keep the nest clean
The falcons have just learned to stay clean: the droppings are made to the outside to prevent additional mess inside the nest box, as can be seen in this video from June 12.
Hunger justifies going further
With the agitation due to her arrival, the female drops the meal on the platform. At first, no falcon dares to retrieve the orvet, but a few minutes later, the hungriest of the 5 takes the risk of approaching the void. He will eat the orvet in 1 piece and without sharing. 13/06
Be the fastest to eat
When the meal is delivered, the first who catches the prey is often the only one who can eat it, without sharing it ... But when the prey is large, it is difficult to swallow it quickly, so the other falcons try to 'have a piece of it! (17/06)
Delivery of a lizard
The lizard is easier to swallow, as in this video of 18/06: barely delivered, already eaten!
The arrival of one of the parents at the nest box with a prey means agitation. The word is weak, in this video of 19/06 it narrowly caused the fall of a small hawk.
In this video dated 21/06, the falcon pretends to attack prey, training for future hunting sessions!
Fall of 2 falcons
At 9:26 am, the female brings prey to the nesting box: 2 falcons rush towards their mother to dispute the meal. In the turmoil, a 1st falcon falls from the platform and pulls the 2nd while trying to grab hold of the ledge. The 2 falcons that fell to the ground were placed back in the nesting box a little later (around 11am) but with the stress caused by their return, 2 other falcons quickly took off. Only one of the two has been returned to the nest box (around 6 p.m.) and will remain there until further notice. The 2nd was probably able to gain height to get to safety.
After the fall, the return!
After the fall of 23/06, the falcon which could not be put back in the nest managed to come back by itself. (06/25)
Learning to fly
The falcons can now fly, they go back and forth from the nest box to the nearby trees. We can still see their hesitation before taking off and their difficult landing. (27/06)
Agitation on the platform
A nap in the sun until their mother arrives with an insect that causes a great stir on the platform! (29/06)
Exploring the surroundings
The surroundings are full of landing opportunities : the perch of the neighbouring nest box, the roof, the trees ... Only the youngest has not yet been able to explore the place. (29/06)
At this age, falcons do not yet know how to hunt, they rely on their parents for food. And now that they've mastered theft, they don't hesitate to hunt down the food. In this video, one of the elders captures the youngest one's meal. (03/07)
The last flight
Born only 2 days after the first 4, this last falcon fell behind during its growth. But with 42 days spent in the nest box, he is finally ready to fly, 12 days after his elders. (07/07)
The last visits
Since taking off 18 days ago, the youngest falcon has been passing through the nesting box regularly. This time, he stays there almost 2 hours, to enjoy the platform and the sun. (25/07)
Video review of the 2020 Théding bird season
Kestrel, blue tit, great tit, redstart, pigeon and barn owl made the show in front of our cameras in 2020. Here is a recap of this year rich in emotions!