Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

A kestrel nestling peers out of a nest box last spring at Bramble Hill in Highland County.
Photo by Diane Lepkowski, Cohort VII. All rights reserved. 

We still have to get through winter, but it’s not too early to be thinking of spring projects! The Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring Project administered by Lance and Jill Morrow out of Timberville in Rockingham County will be needing more helping hands come spring.

Ben Spory, Cohort VI, has been involved with this project for a few years now and explains some of what you can expect to do if you are able to help:

As far as help goes it is probably most needed to help check boxes from spring to mid summer for adult kestrels and then chicks. The vast majority of nest boxes are mounted 10-12 feet up on telephone poles. There is a lot of clambering through ditches and climbing up an extension ladder. We use a drill to open the boxes and hand down chicks to be banded which can be a bit precarious if you aren’t comfortable working from a ladder; some level of balance and dexterity are definitely a must.

We also work with barn owls and check a lot of old silos which can also involve climbing in and out of some tight/uncomfortable spaces.

It should also be noted that we don’t use gloves while handling the birds, to help prevent injuring the animals, so any volunteers should be prepared for at least a mild mauling from time to time. Disclaimers aside it’s a lot of fun and allows for an opportunity to help in the conservation of the species and gather useful scientific data.

Ben Spory, Cohort VI, November 2021

Contact Ben at 540-660-4377 or bspory [at] to get involved!

Meanwhile, if you have some woodworking skills and time to offer over the winter, Lance and Jill are in need of more nest boxes for both kestrels and bluebirds, using blueprints that they provide. If you can help, contact Lance at 540-896-6553 or saltlick2003 [at]