Dane County Humane Society helps rehabilitate orphaned falcons

Four kestrel chicks found in barn

The Dane County Humane Society joined with fellow wildlife rehabilitators to help place four orphaned kestrel chicks into foster nests.

According to a release, the population of American kestral, North America’s smallest falcon, has decline in southern Wisconsin by 41 percent between 1966 and 2014. Wisconsin Breeding Bird Survey data found that the stark downward trend continues today.

Kestrels often rely on man-made nest boxes for nesting habitats, though some will nest in structures such as barns.Dane County Humane Society helps rehabilitate orphaned falcons

The four orphaned chicks were living in a kestrel nest in a barn that was torn down. The nest was abandoned by the parents. The chicks were found at 10 days old and sent to the Humane Society’s Wildlife Center for rehabilitation and care.

Stacy Taritas, a volunteer at the Wildlife Center and the Madison Audubon Society, said the chicks were placed into an incubator and fed with tweezers while volunteers wore masks, so the birds wouldn’t become too attached.

The Madison Audubon Society, an organization that focuses on bird conservation, and the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research program in Stevens Point planned a joint kestrel banding outing on June 15 and the four chicks were able to be a part of that event.

Taritas took the four orphaned chicks to the event and they were integrated into four nests in the wild.Dane County Humane Society helps rehabilitate orphaned falcons

Janet and Amber Eschenbauch, with the Kestrel Research program, work to retrieve adult kestrels and chicks, to band and weigh them and take feather and toenail samples. The bands help researchers understand kestrel movement, migration and nesting territories. The samples help determine where the kestrels have lived and which birds they are related to.

According to Janet Eschenbauch, kestrels typically raise between four and six chicks, so nests with five or fewer chicks of the same age are good candidates for receiving an extra nestling.

“Kestrel mothers don’t know that they have four chicks in the morning and five in the afternoon,” she said.Dane County Humane Society helps rehabilitate orphaned falcons

Eschenbauch said that, every year, the organization gets four to six orphaned chicks after old buildings are demolished or a dead or dying tree falls down. Usually, young chicks are placed into foster nests or raised in a facility and then released into a kestrel family group.

“These organizations are made up of passionate people that want to do good by nature,” said Brand Smith, who coordinates the kestrel nest box monitoring program with the Madison Audubon Society. “I am very happy that our organizations could come together to find homes for these displaced chicks.”