Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory

Headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

American Kestrel 2018 Update

We have been working with cooperators around southeastern and south-central WI on deploying kestrel nestboxes and gathering monitoring data for a number of years. This effort is ramping up even more in 2018. We will have a statewide meeting of Wisconsin partners on March 19th in Columbia County, and will meet with representatives of the nation-wide American Kestrel Partnership from The Peregrine Fund. If you'd like to participate, there are several ways: 

  1. build and erect a kestrel nestbox in appropriate habitat
  2. monitor your nestbox, using a standard data sheet and protocol which we provide, and send to us.

We can forward information on both aspects of the project. If you are interested, or have questions, contact William Mueller, at

American Kestrel Partnership

KestrelThe Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory has joined the American Kestrel Partnership spearheaded by The Peregrine Fund. American Kestrel populations are experiencing long-term declines in North America, and existing data are insufficient for understanding the causes. In the Western Great Lakes states, Breeding Bird Survey data for 1999-2009 show an annual decline of 6.3% in Wisconsin, a larger annual decline than in IL (-4.1%), MI (-2.6%), MN (-1.8%), or IN (-0.3%). In addition to these BBS data, Christmas Bird Count data, various nest-box monitoring programs, and migration counts, collectively indicate long-term regional declines of American Kestrel populations in North America. The causes are unknown, largely because of insufficient data, highlighting the need to generate data, models, and conservation strategies at a continent-wide scale.

The Partnership is an international research network designed to generate data, models, and conservation plans for kestrel habitat and populations at large spatial scales. The Partnership unites the data-generating capacity of citizen scientists with the data-analysis expertise of professional scientists by promoting research collaboration among citizen scientists, universities, government agencies, conservation organizations, schools, and businesses. The

Partnership also fosters long-term conservation values and appreciation of science by engaging the public with hands-on research experiences.

The Partnership is 1) supporting development of a coordinated, continent-wide network of independently managed nest-box monitoring programs and associated database; 2) providing an interactive research networking website; and 3) supporting professional scientists to develop targeted research on fledgling and adult demography, genetics, and toxicology.

Kestrel The Observatory has established as its first Partnership goal the establishment of a 100-nest box monitoring program for kestrels in Wisconsin. Already existing kestrel boxes are being incorporated into this program, and additional boxes are being constructed and will be erected and monitored.

If you would like to participate with the Observatory in this kestrel program, either by hosting a nest box on your property or helping to erect and monitor nest boxes, please contact Observatory Project Coordinator Bill Mueller at .

Please see http://www.peregrinefund.org/american-kestrel for more information on the Partnership.

Nest box construction plans recommended for this program can be found at:


Nest box monitoring instructions can be found at:


Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research (CWKR)  https://www.facebook.com/Central-Wisconsin-Kestrel-Research-155834361266530/ has been working on kestrels for almost 15 years in central Wisconsin and is also part of the American Kestrel Partnership. CWKR works with almost 100 nest boxes in two primary study areas and is dedicated to the quest for knowledge about American Kestrels, while providing educational programs to the public. The CWKR web site has a nice photo gallery. The program is run by Janet and Amber Eschenbauch, graduates of UW-Stevens Point. They speak to the public about the kestrel and also lead field trips.

If you wish copies of any of the following papers, please contact Bill Mueller

  1. Nest-box occupancy and reproductive performance of kestrels in central Wisconsin. 2009. Eschenbaugh, et al.
  2. Why are American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations declining in North America? Evidence from nest-box programs. 2009. Smallwood, et al.
  3. American Kestrel breeding habitat: The importance of patch size. 2009. Smallwood, et al.