The addition of an American kestrel nest box onto your property should provide a mutual benefit to the landowner and the kestrels. This is because kestrels eat a wide variety of prey items, many of which are considered pest species by farmers and ranchers.
Kestrels are about the size of a blue jay so you do not have to worry about your pets being taken by kestrels (free ranging chicks would probably be considered prey though). Cats in particular would prey on kestrels given the chance.
There is no cost to the landowner (in certain provinces and territories), the nest boxes are free because they have been funded through grants. See the individual provinces and territories pages for a list of sponsors.
Kestrels are known to eat a wide variety of small prey items including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Based upon my observations of individuals and remains in nest boxes in the Peace Region the kestrels have been eating a lot of voles and grasshoppers. I do on occasion find small bird feathers, a snake skeleton or dragonfly wings but it appears that voles and other invertebrates are forming the bulk of their diet.
Nest Box Competition:
European starlings are the biggest competitor for nest boxes that kestrels have. This is because the starlings are large enough to fight kestrels for use of the nest box with their long spear like bill. Starlings are invasive and thus are not protected and can be removed from competing for the nest box. The most effective way to reduce this competition is trapping or shooting the adults. The alternative to that is to constantly remove starling nests and eggs.
If you are getting starlings in kestrel nest boxes this would require the most monitoring effort because you will be constantly removing starling nests. However, I have seen no evidence that starling are outcompeting kestrels for nest boxes I have installed in Alberta and the kestrels in Montana are also showing strong signs they are outcompeting starlings. I'm sure there are cases where starlings outcompete kestrels in Alberta but I have not being seeing that in the Peace Region or the Hussar area despite starlings being present in both of those areas.
Monitor & Maintenance:
Detailed information can be found under the Citizen Science page for the kestrel program but the following is a basic run down of the activities for monitoring the nest boxes:
Minimal: clean out the nest box in the fall or early spring and repair any damaged pieces
Normal: check box every 1-3 weeks from May to July for nesting activity or progression of the nestlings
Maximum: check every few days/weekly from May to July for nesting activity or progression of the nestlings
Ideally all of the nest boxes will be "normally" monitored but if the landowner and/or volunteer mutually agree to "maximize" the monitoring that would probably be beneficial.
If you are interested in a kestrel nest box on your property email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). The information I need from interested landowners includes:
-name and contact information
-legal land location and if your land consists of cereal crops, hay land or pasture
-if you or someone you know will be monitoring and maintaining the nest box
-if you would allow volunteers to monitor/maintain the nest boxes
Warne in the Wild and its owner(s) are not responsible for any actions, incidents, injuries etc. that may occur while you are involved with the kestrel nest box program. You are solely responsible as a landowner for any actions you take in regards to the kestrel nest box program and the volunteers agree to be solely responsible for their actions relating to the kestrel nest box program.