American Kestrel Study

A citizen science effort to better understand the causes behind declines of American Kestrels.

Population data collected by HawkWatch International (HWI), and corroborated by other researchers, indicate long-term declines of American Kestrel populations across North America. The cause(s) have yet to be determined, but potential factors include land-use change, predation, contaminants, and loss of/competition for nesting cavities. We need additional research to better understand these declines and guide conservation efforts.

mnp adult male w cbTracking Movement and Survival with Color Bands

To monitor Kestrel survival and movements, we band them with unique, alphanumeric color bands that allow for easy identification from afar with binoculars and spotting scopes, while eliminating the need to recapture a bird to know 'who' it is. Maximizing these efforts requires many sets of eyes to spot, read, and then report sightings. We need your help! If you see a banded Kestrel, click here to use our sighting form and report it. Please note the sex of the bird, color of the band, which leg it is on, the alphanumeric code, the date, and the location where you saw the bird (either GPS coordinates or nearest cross streets). Not all of the Kestrels we have banded have color bands, so keep an eye out for silver, metal (USGS) bands and please report any sightings you come across.


Nestbox Monitoring

Each spring, HWI citizen science volunteers monitor a large network of Kestrel nestboxes placed in the diverse landscapes occurring along the Wasatch Front, including wildland (areas of intact native shoreline or shrub-steppe), agricultural, urban, and heavily developed areas. Thanks to our many volunteers, we are able to collect large amounts of data that provide a glimpse into landscape-specific reproduction and survival of the American Kestrel, which could help explain the declines. In addition to learning about Kestrel populations in Utah, HWI participates in the American Kestrel Partnership--a network of independently managed nestbox monitoring programs to generate data and model relationships between nesting performance and environmental factors at the continental scale.


Your gift of $25 will pay for the materials to build one nestbox that will be used in our study. Support this important research through a symbolic nestbox "adoption" and take part in Kestrel conservation.  If you would like to purchase one of our nestboxs and/or have us install a box for you on your property, contact us for pricing.

Project Highlights

  • 546 nestboxes monitored along an urban gradient
  • 307 Kestrel nesting attempts followed since 2014
  • 1,104 American Kestrels banded, including 478 color-banded individuals
  • Over 6,000 hours contributed by 155 citizen scientists, to date

full cycle phenology

The Full Cycle Phenology Project is a collaboration between HawkWatch International, the American Kestrel Partnership, Boise State University, University of California-Los Angeles, Environmental Laboratory of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and St. Mary’s University. Using advanced genetic techniques and large-scale collaboration, our goal is to study Kestrels during their full annual cycle so we can identify and learn about distinct populations, link breeding and wintering grounds, learn about migratory routes and connectivity, and investigate climate change impacts. Visit the Full Cycle Phenology Project webpage to learn more.


icon factsheet

  ID Fact Sheet

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   Volunteer Form

donate icon

   Support this Project

binoculars icon

 Report a Sighting              

nestbox icon

  Build a Nest Box                

camera    DIY Cavity Camera



Image Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at: