goose pond

American Kestrels

Female American kestrel at Goose Pond Sanctuary, photo by Jim Stewart

Female American kestrel at Goose Pond Sanctuary, photo by Jim Stewart

As you read in the November 2017 Madison Audubon Society newsletter, American kestrels have found a safe haven to raise young in south-central Wisconsin. Through our nest box program coordinated by Brand Smith and made possible through the efforts of many staff and volunteers, nearly 150 nest boxes have been installed and monitored since 2009, and have produced hundreds of these incredible falcons! In fact, our nest box trail is the second largest in the nation, just behind Sacajawea Audubon Society that monitors 151 boxes in the area around Bozeman Montana.

2017 was a very good year for American kestrels with a record number of 190 kestrel fledgling from 47 nest boxes. In the past five years 572 young have fledged.

In our region, American kestrels have declined 41% from 1966 to 2014 according to Breeding Bird Survey data. Our goal is to reverse that trend in south central Wisconsin. Check out this link to see the locations for confirmed kestrel nesting pairs in the Breeding Bird Atlas II. You will note a
large number nesting in Columbia County and in the other six counties.

Breeding Bird Atlas data for American Kestrels.  View the interactive map here .

Breeding Bird Atlas data for American Kestrels. View the interactive map here.

We look forward to continuing the kestrel nest box program next year and beyond! If you're interested in helping install and/or monitor kestrel boxes, contact Brand Smith (brandsmith@charter.net).

An American kestrel chick about to be banded as a monitoring effort through Madison Audubon and the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research program. MAS Photo

An American kestrel chick about to be banded as a monitoring effort through Madison Audubon and the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research program. MAS Photo

Goose Pond Breeding Birds of 2016

One of the highlights of 2016 was finding 51 species and 1,633 pairs of breeding birds at Goose Pond Sanctuary and at the adjacent 65-acre Manthe farm.  Most of the data was gathered from Heather Inzalaco’s master project with additional data provided by us.

Over 460 acres of restored prairie were surveyed and this large acreage accounts for the bulk of the breeding pairs. Grassland birds found included:

Goldfinch nest,  Photo by Maddie Dumas

Goldfinch nest, Photo by Maddie Dumas

  • ring-necked pheasant - 28 pairs, 
  • northern harrier - 2, 
  • sedge wrens - 62, 
  • common yellowthroat - 212, 
  • clay-colored sparrow - 128,
  • savanna sparrow - 1, 
  • song sparrow - 302,
  • dickcissel - 23, 
  • red-winged blackbird - 365, 
  • eastern meadowlark - 46, 
  • brown-headed cowbird - 17, and
  • American goldfinch 47.

Check out this Friday Feathered Feature post to learn more about the breeding bird point count project at Goose Pond!