Kestrels on Campus
AbstractThe University of Utah campus is home to one of the fastest and most charismatic birds in the world: the American Kestrel, Falco sparverius. These small falcons are voracious predators of rodents and insects. In addition to this ecological service provided, they can be studied as an indicator species. Indicator species provide health insights of the ecosystem they inhabit, typically because they are sensitive to changes around them. Because Kestrels rely on different prey species, declines in their population could imply imbalances in the environment. 15 nest boxes have been placed on campus to provide nesting sites to these birds and make their nests more accessible to researchers who are currently assessing the health of our Greater Campus Ecosystem. In addition to volunteer nest box monitors, cameras have been placed at key nest boxes to provide round-the-clock data collection. While the first year of monitoring has confirmed the presence of breeding American Kestrels on campus, further research will provide more insight into the habits and trends of this population. Coexisting with native wildlife is one of the most important aspects of sustainability and this research aims to maximize the reach of that mission.
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