When kestrel Jeff disappears, leaving his partner Jenny to care for the chicks alone, if feels like history is repeating itself.
Jeff the kestrel
Jeff is a kestrel I helped raise after his mother sadly disappeared. I was so delighted when he made it through to adulthood and began to raise a family of his own, but then fate took a turn and it felt like history was repeating itself.
Kestrel parents Jeff & Jenny
Jeff and Jenny are first time parents and utterly devoted. It’s male kestrel Jeff’s job to bring in food for the chicks, while female Jenny actually feeds them, tearing the food into bitesize pieces and sharing it out equally. She is also responsible for brooding the chicks, since they won’t be able to regulate their own temperature until they’re at least a week old.
Threat from above
Whilst Jeff is out collecting food for his family, a red kite swoops down. These birds of prey are much larger than kestrels and pose a serious threat. But Jeff puts up a brave fight and a fierce aerial combat ensues. Thankfully Jeff appears unscathed.
Like father, like son
At five days old, the chicks are old enough to be left alone for short periods and Jenny takes the occasional break. Whilst she is out, Jeff does something extraordinary – he feeds the chicks! Feeding chicks isn’t usually a male’s job and I’ve only seen one male kestrel do this before, Jeff’s own dad, Mr Kes. However Jeff is inconsistent and sometimes has no idea what size of food they can manage!
One day, when the chicks are 11 days old, Jeff doesn’t return to the nest and Jenny seems unsettled. I check the cameras to see if I can spot him, but there’s no sign and I begin to suspect the red kite that attacked him the week before. Red kites will kill kestrels to eliminate competition for food.
Having followed this kestrel’s story since he hatched last year, I feel his loss keenly. Jeff is a favourite of mine, since I helped raise him after his mother sadly disappeared.
But now Jenny needs my help. She can’t venture too far from the nest to hunt herself… but she knows to get food from the feeding post and so I leave extra mice for her, to replicate these birds diet of wild prey.