Signs of new wildlife continue to delight this spring, as kestrels and screech owls have inhabited the new nesting boxes located on the Knoll and in the Wild Garden behind Windows on the Pond.
Small but mighty, the Southeastern American Kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) is a non-migratory subspecies of kestrel found in open pine savannahs, sandhills, prairies, and pastures in Florida. The smallest of the falcon family, it is listed as threatened in Florida due to a decline in nesting and foraging habitat. It’s one of the most colorful of all raptors: the male’s slate-blue head and wings contrast elegantly with his rusty-red back and tail; the female has the same warm reddish on her wings, back, and tail. Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.
Eastern screech owls (Megascops asio) are also one of the smallest of the North American species and are strictly nocturnal, roosting during the day in cavities or next to tree trunks. They are quite common and can often be found in residential areas. However, due to their small size and camouflage, they are much more frequently heard than actually seen. These owls are frequently heard calling at night, especially during their spring breeding season. Despite their name, these owls don’t truly screech, but instead make more of an eerie trill sound.
Team members from Bok Tower Gardens recently accompanied a biologist from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) who used a non-invasive “Peeper Cam” to take a quick peek inside the nesting boxes. The “Peeper Cam” allows a wildlife specialist to monitor species without ladders and does not disturb nests. The team was thrilled to discover and capture photos and video of 4-5 nearly full grown kestrels in the box on the Sand Hill Knoll, a screech owl in the second Knoll box, and a nest of kestrel eggs in the box behind Window by the Pond.
Take a quick look at the exciting “Peeper Cam” video as these Bok Tower Gardens “babies” enjoy a safe haven inside the new nesting boxes. Wildlife is always naturally entertaining and it appears we caught one of the kestrels enjoying a tasty lizard dinner!
Bok Tower Gardens is an oasis to 126 species of birds and our conservation mission encourages native wildlife and birds to find sanctuary in our habitats. We are very excited to discover that these nesting boxes are already quite popular with our winged residents!