A decline in kestrels in Switzerland’s central plateau region has been reversed, thanks to the installation of nesting boxes.
The success is such that young birds are now migrating to new regions and thus strengthening other populations, says the Swiss Ornithological Instituteexternal link in Sempach, canton Lucerne.
Kestrels like to feed on rodents and are therefore “farmers’ friends”, the institute explains in a press releaseexternal link (in French). But they became rare on the central plateau in the 1960s, owing to impoverishment of the agricultural landscape and loss of breeding sites.
However, ornithologists understood the problem and began to install nesting boxes on farm buildings to compensate for the lack of natural sites. In total, more than 3,000 nesting boxes were installed.
Volunteers have been counting kestrel chicks in nesting boxes for about 15 years. The data confirm that the installation of these boxes has resulted in an increase in the population of kestrels.
The benefits of nesting boxes are even greater than originally thought, says the institute, which calls the project “a great success”. Thanks to them, kestrels have more reproductive success, since nesting boxes are safer than natural sites such as rocky niches.