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Save the American Kestrel from Extinction

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The American kestrel has lost half its population since 1970. Take action for this important species!

The American kestrel, a small and flashy falcon found coast to coast, is in dire straits. Despite the success stories of bird conservation in North America1, the American kestrel population has plummeted, leaving researchers baffled and concerned2.

While other raptor species like bald eagles and red-tailed hawks thrive, the American kestrel faces a mysterious decline that demands urgent attention. The significance of this decline cannot be overstated, especially considering the positive trajectory of other raptors in the region3.

The Puzzle of Decline

Scientists have put forth numerous hypotheses to explain the kestrel decline, but finding a definitive cause has proven challenging. Unlike previous cases where raptor population declines were resolved like murder mysteries, the investigation into kestrel declines has remained inconclusive4.

Efforts to identify the major threats to American kestrels have led researchers to consider several factors that warrant further investigation. From the population surge of Cooper's hawks to changes in winter habitat and migration patterns, from the influence of agricultural fields to the dangers of rodenticides and neonicotinoids, each factor may be contributing to the decline5.

Grasshoppers: The Top Suspect

While experts acknowledge the complexity of factors at play, one leading suspect has emerged: grasshoppers6. The decline in insect prey availability, particularly grasshoppers, poses a significant threat to the survival of young kestrels. Initial findings suggest that young kestrels heavily rely on insect prey, making the decline in grasshoppers a matter of utmost concern.

Take Action for Kestrels

We cannot stand idle while the American kestrel's future hangs in the balance. It's time to rally together and take action to protect these magnificent birds and their habitat. Citizen science initiatives and nest box programs7 have proven effective in monitoring and supporting kestrel populations, compensating for the loss of natural nesting sites8.

Preserving suitable habitat and addressing the threats posed by pesticides are vital steps in safeguarding the American kestrel's survival9. By promoting sustainable farming practices, reducing pesticide use10, and advocating for integrated pest management, we can mitigate the impacts on kestrels and their prey.

We need your help to save the American kestrel from extinction. By signing the pledge to protect the American kestrel, you join a community of researchers, conservationists, policymakers, landowners, and passionate individuals working together to ensure their survival. Together, we can make a difference.

Let us embrace our role as stewards of the environment and embark on a journey to preserve the magnificent American kestrel for generations to come. Join the movement, sign the pledge, and take a stand for the American kestrel!

More on this issue:

  1. All About Birds, Cornell University (2023), "American Kestrel Identification."
  2. Chad Witko, Audubon (20 November 2020), "As American Kestrels Mysteriously Decline, Researchers Look to Their Migration for Clues."
  3. Gustave Axelson, Cornell Chronicle, Cornell University (19 September 2019), "Nearly 30% of birds in U.S., Canada have vanished since 1970."
  4. Raptor Research Foundation, Phys.org (6 June 2023), "Researchers dig deep to unveil causes of decline for North America's smallest falcon."
  5. James C. Bednarz, Jean-François Therrien, Journal of Raptor Research (30 May 2023), "The Full Annual Cycle of the American Kestrel: State of the Knowledge, Information Gaps, and Conservation Needs."
  6. Eurasia Review (7 June 2023), "Researchers Dig Deep To Unveil Causes Of Decline For North America’s Smallest Falcon."
  7. Birding Pictures (2023), "American Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring."
  8. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, "Kestrels breeding and nesting habits."
  9. PennState Extension, College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University (20 May 2013), "Managing Habitat for American Kestrels."
  10. United States Environmental Protection Agency (17 May 2023), "Protecting Endangered Species from Pesticides."
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The Pledge:

The American kestrel, a beloved falcon found coast to coast, is in urgent need of our help. This remarkable species is facing a sharp decline in North America, while other raptors thrive. We must intervene to ensure its survival and restore its population to healthy numbers.

I pledge to take the following actions to save the American kestrel:

  1. Educate myself and others about the kestrel's plight and the importance of its conservation. By spreading awareness, I can inspire more people to join the cause and take action.
  2. Create kestrel-friendly habitats by planting native vegetation that provides food and shelter. Native plants attract insects, which are an essential food source for kestrels.
  3. Install nest boxes for kestrels in suitable locations on my property or in collaboration with local conservation groups. Providing artificial nesting sites helps offset the loss of natural nesting sites and supports breeding efforts.
  4. Minimize or eliminate pesticide use in my garden and encourage others to do the same. Pesticides can harm kestrels directly or indirectly by reducing their prey availability.
  5. Advocate for policies that protect kestrel habitats and regulate pesticide usage. By raising our voices, I can influence decision-makers to prioritize kestrel conservation.
  6. Support sustainable farming practices that reduce the use of pesticides and preserve kestrel habitats. Sustainable agriculture promotes a healthier environment for kestrels and other wildlife.
  7. Report sightings of kestrels to local birding or wildlife organizations to aid in population monitoring. Reporting sightings helps researchers track kestrel distributions and identify key areas for conservation.
  8. Promote responsible rodent control methods that avoid the use of rodenticides harmful to kestrels. Rodenticides can be deadly to kestrels and other birds of prey when they consume poisoned rodents.
  9. Advocate for the protection and restoration of kestrel habitats in urban and rural landscapes. Preserving and restoring diverse habitats benefits kestrels and contributes to overall biodiversity.
  10. Foster a connection between people and kestrels through birdwatching, photography, and sharing experiences. Appreciating kestrels firsthand helps create a sense of responsibility and empathy for their conservation.

By taking these actions, I can help reverse the decline of the American kestrel and ensure that this magnificent species thrives once again in North America. Let us unite in our commitment to saving the kestrel and leave a legacy of conservation for future generations to cherish. Together, we can make a difference.

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