From the newsletter: Only
4% of the banded nestlings returned to nest in the study area, while the
majority dispersed out of the study area. Of those that stayed put, females
moved farther than males, about 6 miles (9.8 km) compared to the males’ 3.3
miles (5.3 km). Researchers think that although males are certainly capable of
long-distance moves (one kestrel is known to have dispersed more than 1,200
miles!), they typically do not move as far because they need to defend
territories. Females, on the other hand, are free to wander and choose the best
available mate. Interestingly, juveniles whose parents were raised in the area
were three times more likely to stay in the same area than those whose parents
were immigrants. Two “local” sons even came back a few years later to nest in
the very boxes from which they fledged.
How do American kestrels compare to American people when it comes to leaving home? According to
a 2008 Pew Research Center survey,
the percentage of Americans who resided in the same town in which they were
born was 37%, compared with just 4% of the studied kestrels remaining in their
area of origin. The popular idea that most kestrels stay in the same “hometown”
in which they were raised is more likely a reflection of our own human
dispersal patterns—people are almost an order of magnitude more likely to stay!
Deciding whether to
move or stay always involves tradeoffs. Kestrels leave their hometowns for some
of the same reasons people do: to seek out new opportunities, to learn what’s
out there, and to start a family. However, those that stay do so for reasons
that we can also relate to: the climate is favorable, they know the area, and
it’s a good place to raise kids.
The site has information on putting up nestboxes to encourage your own kestrel neighbors!