This long weekend gives me the opportunity to upload a few short video-clips (30 seconds each) documenting the mating behaviour of the (wild) pair of breeding kestrels that I’m filming at a local farm. (Yes a farm, not a park, but "more kestrels manoeuvre in the farm" wouldn't have the same ring to it, would it?).
All clips were filmed using a(n old) Bushnell trail camera in the last week of April 2017.
The pair seem to be nesting in a box that was originally designed for barn owls but has had little owls nesting in it a few years ago (which I also filmed).
I don’t think the female kestrel is laying eggs at present, but she may be. The two kestrels are certainly mating often each day and I’m lucky enough to have captured their “routine” several times with this trail camera.
The “mating cattle shelter” (on the roof of which my trail camera is placed) is a few dozen yards from their next box in a large oak tree, in the middle of an arable field.
There are hares in this field as well as roe deer and red-legged partridge. A roe buck and three hinds regularly shelter under the roof of this cattle shelter and last week I noticed three mandarin ducks (well… two ducks and one resplendent drake) roosting on the shelter roof too. Unfortunately, my trail camera didn’t record any footage of these birds as they sat directly behind the infra-red sensors.
The clips below show the general mating routine of this pair of kestrels.
You may need to double-click each clip to bring about a full screen format of each video.
This is the (wild) breeding female kestrel I'm filming this year. A smidge larger than her mate, with more camouflaged plumage (a striped brown(ish) tail and a duller, mottled head unlike the male's blue-grey head and grey tail with very few cross bars).
... and this is the male. A tad smaller than his mate but as is often the case in birds, a bit more colourful in plumage (blue-grey head and grey tail) than the female who often has to sit on the nest and stay put, as out-of-sight as can-be to predators.
Step 1 - the male kestrel (foreground of this video) brings in a field vole to the barn roof and calls the female in (if she's not there already).
She takes the vole and begins to eat.
NB. The dates and times imprinted on these short video clips are accurate but ignore them in this sequence as I'm uploading a select few over a few days to show the mating protocol in its entirety using different clips from different days).
Mating process Step 2 - She devours the vole. He preens, nearby.
Mating process step 3.
Another example of the female swallowing the vole (almost whole this time) as the male sits nearby and preens. She often calls him over to mate when she has finished eating.
Mating process step 4 -
Sometimes the female evacuates her bowels (well... her cloaca anyway) in readiness for mating.
The male... errr... still preens.
Mating procedure. Step 5.
The male jumps on his mate.
Mating process step 5 (or not) -
Sometimes the male doesn't seem interested or seems to get confused. More often than not, he mounts his mate, but occasionally, this happens...
Another chance to see my original close-up HD footage of these two kestrels mate a fortnight or so ago (using another trail camera with a close-up filter attached to the basic lens).
No privacy when I'm around. None at all.