Ecology and habitat protection needs of the Southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) on large-scale devel...

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Ecology and habitat protection needs of the Southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) on large-scale development sites in Florida
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Ecology and habitat protection needs of the Southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) on large-scale development sites in Florida
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Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
    Acknowledgement
        Page i
    List of Figures
        Page ii
    Introduction
        Page 1
    Definitions
        Page 2
    Recommendation summary
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Life history characteristics and general biology
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Determining local population size and habitat quality
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Procedures for implementing preservation measures
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Alternative protection and mitigation techniques
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Literature cited
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
Full Text


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ECOLOGY AND HABITAT PROTECTION NEEDS OF
THE SOUTHEASTERN AMERICAN KESTREL
(FALCO SPARVERIUS PAULUS) ON LARGE-SCALE
DEVELOPMENT SITES IN FLORIDA.

NONGAME WILDLIFE TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 13




















BETH STYS

OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION
620 S. MERIDIAN STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA
32399-1600

MARCH 1993
IVaS'II or MnMQ URSLIS




ECOLOGY AND HABITAT PROTECTION NEEDS OF THE SOUTH-
EASTERN AMERICAN KESTREL (FALCO SPARVERIUS PAULUS) ON
LARGE-SCALE DEVELOPMENT SITES IN FLORIDA.

NONGAME WILDLIFE PROGRAM TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 13


BETH STYS

NONGAME WILDLIFE PROGRAM
OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION
620 S. MERIDIAN STREET
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA
32399-1600






















MARCH 1993

Suggested reference:

Stys, B. 1993. Ecology and habitat protection needs of the southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius
paulus) on large-scale development sites in Florida. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Technical Report No. 13. Tallahassee, FL. 35 pp.






This publication provides guidelines to both developers and regulators where habitat protection for
southeastern American kestrels is desired. The recommendations in this publication reflect the development-
related actions considered necessary by the author and by staff of the Commission if the southeastern
American kestrel is to survive outside existing protected lands. These do not, however, constitute rules or
formal policies of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and are not legally binding on
developers or on regulators that make decisions affecting southeastern American kestrels and kestrel habitat.





TABLE OF CONTENTS


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. ..............................................................................................................
LIST O F FIG U R ES. ...................................................................... ............................................... ........ ii
IN T R O D U C T IO N ........................................................................ ............................................... ......... 1
D EFIN IT IO N S ........................................................................ ...................................................................... 2
RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY........................................ ...........................................................3



SECTION 1. LIFE HISTORY CHARACTERISTICS AND GENERAL BIOLOGY

D ESC R IPT IO N ............................. ..... ................................................................................... 9
R A N G E ............................................................................................................ ................................. 10
DIET AND FEEDING BEHAVIOR .................................................................. ........................ 10
N EST EN V IRO N M EN T ........................................................................................................................ 11
H A BITA T REQ U IREM EN TS............................................................................ ......... .............. 13
REPRODUCTION AND BREEDING BEHAVIOR ................................... .........................16
RECRUITMENT AND MORTALITY ........................................................... ......................... 17



SECTION 2. DETERMINING LOCAL POPULATION SIZE AND HABITAT QUALITY

IN T R O D U C T IO N ................................................................................................................................. 19
HABITAT INVENTORY AND MAPPING ................................................... ......................... 19
SURVEYING FOR KESTRELS ......................................................................... ........................19
Survey D design ........................ .....................................................................................................20
Survey Protocol ..........................................................................................................................20
Location of kestrels ............................................................................ ......................... 20
Location of nest sites ........................................................................................................... 21
DETERMINATION OF KESTREL HABITAT USE ON SITES THAT LACK NESTS ..................21
SU RV EY REPO RT ........................ ........................................................................... .............22



SECTION 3. PROCEDURES FOR IMPLEMENTING PRESERVATION MEASURES

PRESERVATION RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................. ...........................25
Kestrels nesting and foraging on site ...................................................... ........................ 25
Kestrels nesting on site and foraging off site ........................................ ............ ............ 25





Kestrels nesting off site and foraging on site ....................................................................... 25
PROTECTION AREA SIZE AND CONFIGURATION ........................... ................................26
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS ............................................ ..............................27
Overlap of kestrel habitat and gopher tortoise habitat ......................... ........... .............. 27
Removal/Relocation of a kestrel nest ................................................................................... 27
INTEGRATING PROTECTION AREAS INTO THE DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY ............. 28
MANAGING PROTECTION AREAS ............................................................... ..................... 28
Foraging areas ........................................................................................ ...............................28
N est sites .................................................................. .......................... ................... . .......... 28
Perch sites ...................................................................................................................................29


SECTION 4. ALTERNATIVE PROTECTION AND MITIGATION TECHNIQUES


O FF-SITE M IT IG A T IO N ...................................................... ..........................................................31



LIT ER A T U R E C IT ED ................................................................................................ .............................. 33





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


The preparation of this technical report involved the help of many individuals within and outside of the Florida
Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Mike Allen initiated the kestrel guidelines project by contracting with
Michael Collopy, Mark Hoffman, Petra Bulall-Wood, and Joseph Schaefer to provide a draft report which was
reviewed by Mark Kopeny. Consultation was provided by Jim Cox, James Layne, John Smallwood, and Brian
Toland. Brad Harrman and Randy Kautz were closely involved in the development of the recommendations.
Improvements to the text and information presented in earlier drafts were made by Brad Hartman, Randy Kautz,
James Layne, Brian Millsap, John Smallwood, Brian Toland, Don Wood, and Petra Bohall-Wood. James Layne
and Brian Toland graciously contributed photographs. Clark Frazier provided the layout and design.






LIST OF FIGURES


Figure 1. Flow chart of decisions and corresponding actions needed in the review of large-scale
development projects which may impact southeastern American kestrels.

Figure 2. Adult male American kestrel.

Figure 3. Geographic distribution of F. s. sparverius and F. s. paulus in the southeast and of F. s. paulus in
Florida.

Figure 4. Adult male American kestrel perched on a fence post.

Figure 5. Typical kestrel nest snag.

Figure 6. Typical kestrel nest site.

Figure 7. Active kestrel nest site located in an area unsuitable for foraging.

Figure 8. Active kestrel nest site located in a beam of an electrical transformer station.

Figure 9. Active kestrel nest site located in the roof of the building of an active business.

Figure 10. Active kestrel nest site located in an observation tower at an airport.

Figure 11. Active kestrel nest site located in an ivy-covered snag.

Figure 12. Determination of kestrel use area.

Figure 13. Diagram of kestrel nest box.





INTRODUCTION


The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is North
America's most numerous and smaller falcon(family
Falconidae). There are 17 described ubshpcciie in the
western hemisphere, three of which occur in the
United States (Bird and Palmer 1988). Two subspe-
cies, F. s sparverius and F. s.paulus, occur regularly in
the state of Florida. F. s. sparverius is a migrating
winter resident only. arriving in Florida in the fall
ISeptember) and lea ing in early spring (March-
April) (Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986a) F. s.
paulus, the southeastern American kestrel, is a perma-
nent, non-migrating resident in Florida (Hoffman
and Collopy 1987).
F. s. sparverius appears to be stable or even in-
creasing throughout its range (Foran et al. 1984).
However, populations ofF. s. paulus decreased by an
estimated 82% between the early 1940's and 1981 -83
in regions of north central Florida dommiated by
longleafpine (Pinus palustris) (Hoffman anad Colkipy
1988). As a result, in 1978 the Florida Came and
Fresh Water Fish Commission listed F. s. paulus as a
threatened species. F, paulus is under consideration
for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act
but has not yet been listed.
The population decline of F. aulus in Florida
appears to have been due to man-induced changes,
especially loss of suitable nest sires (Hoffman and
Collopy 1988). Although the clearing of woodlands
by timber, beef, and dairy cattle industries has created
new suitable foraging areas, these land use practices
have also severely reduced the number of potential
and suitable nest sires (Smallwood 1990). The reduc-
tion in nest site availability is considered by many to
be the prime factor in reducing and limting resident
kestrel populations in Florida (Hoffman 198 Bohall
1984).
In addition to che loss of nest sites, the quality of
suitable foraging habitat has declined in recent years
in response to current land use practices, particularly
those associated with highly intensive agricultural


operations (Hoffman and Collopy 1988). Fire sup-
pression and increasingly fragmented habitats also
have reduced the availability of natural open areas
(Hoffman and Collopy 1988). In the past, naturally
occurring fires maintained a mosaic of open areas
covered by short vegetation throughout Florida
(Smallwood 1990). If the rate of land conversion
continues, natural kestrelhabitars will remain only in
isolated, fragmented patches.
This publication is intended it pro\ ide accurate
information regarding the habitat requirements of
the southeastern American kestrel, reliable tech-
niquesf fir determining kestrel distribution, and effec-
tive habitat protection recommendations for lands
undergoing large-scale development. These guide-
lines provide standard recommendations for a variety
of general situations, but they do not attempt to cover
every specific case that may occur. Most cases will be
unique and should be examined individually. Imple-
mentation of the recommendations may be problem-
atic on development sites smaller chan 500 acres due
to the large acreage (125 acres) required by a breeding
pair. C r,,il I .... ... 're .r ,. I h,. ,
assistance in the location of potential kestrel habitat
and determinarton of kestrel density. Small develop-
ment sites which contain kestrels should be examined
case by case to deleimine thde best preservation op-
tion. These guidelines are to serve as recommenda-
tions, nor ias regulatory requirements,
The first section describes various life-history
characteristics of the American kestrel and summa-
rizes habitat requirements in Florida. The second
scclion establishes survey techniques for estimating
local kestrel populations and locating active kestrel
neat sites. The third section provides recommenda-
tions tor the establishment of habi tat protection areas
and the development of long-term management plans
for those areas. The final section provides alternative
mitigation techniques which are acceptable for use
when on-site habitat protection is not feasible.





DEFINITIONS


TYPE I HABITAT: Upland plant communities with
less than 10% canopy cover and with at least 60%
herbaceous ground cover less than 25 cm in height.
Pasture is an example of this type of habitat.

TYPE II HABITAT: Open woodland communities
with greater than 10% but less than 25% canopy cover
and with at least 60% herbaceous ground cover less
than 25 cm in height. Open sandhill is an example of
this type of habitat.

SUITABLE FORAGE HABITAT: An area com-
posed of Type I habitat, Type II habitat, or a combina-
tion of the two.

SUITABLE PERCH SITES: Fence posts, telephone
poles, telephone wires, snags, and exposed tree limbs.
Suitable perch sites provide a clear, unobstructed view
of forage habitat. Optimum perch height ranges be-
tween 7.0 and 10.0 m. Acceptable perch site density
is 0.5 perch sites/ha.

ACTIVE KESTREL NEST SITE: Any structure in
use by a pair of kestrels for the purposes of egg-laying,


incubation, and rearing of young.

SUITABLE KESTREL HABITAT: Ilabitat com-
posed ofType I, Type II, or a combination ofType I and
Type II habitat, that contains natural nest sites or
suitable man-made nest structures and adequate perch
sites.

KESTREL USE AREA: The on-site area of suitable
foraging habitat containing kestrel sighting locations
as determined by surveys and plotted on a map of the
project site.

HABITAT PROTECTION AREA: A protected area
established on site, consisting of Type I, T i I. or a
combination ofType I andT. i I ...I .. ,-
ing nesting or foraging habitat, or both nesting and
foraging habitat. Habitat protection areas are estab-
lished on the site when a breeding kestrel is actively
nesting or foraging on site. The primary purpose of the
habitat protection area is to provide permanent nest-
ing and foraging habitat for each breeding kestrel
occurring on site.






RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY


An outline of steps to follow in assessing the
biological importance of a site for southeastern Ameri-
can kestrels is presented below. A flow-chart diagram
of decisions and corresponding recommended actions
needed in the review of a large-scale development
project is presented in Figure 1. All sections of this
report should be read to clarify how these general
recommendations and conditions were developed.

A. A proposed development site contains poten-
tially important southeastern American kestrel
habitat or populations if either of the follow-
ing conditions exists:

i. The site contains at least 50 hectares (125
acres) of one or more of the following
habitat types (as described in Florida Land
Use, Cover and Forms Classification System,
Florida Department of Transportation
1985):

Recreational Land (180)
Improved, Unimproved, or Woodland
Pasture (211, 212, 213)
Specialty Farms (250)
Other Open Areas (260)
Herbaceous Rangeland (310)
Coniferous Forest (4101)
Longleaf-Xeric Oak (4121)
Pine Flatwood (4111)
Xeric Oak (4211)
Pine-Mesic Oak (4141)
Hardwood-Conifer Mixed (4341)
Rural Land in Transition (741)
Mixed Hardwood (4381)
Forest Regeneration Areas (443)
Burned Areas (745)

Todetermine whether this condition is met,a
map of the habitats occurring on the pro-
posed site and a summary table of hectares
(acres) of each habitat type on the site is
needed.

ii. The site is thought to support at least one
breeding pair of southeastern American


kestrels based on a preliminary survey of the
site conducted during the breeding season
(April-August).

If neither of the above conditions is met,
then extensive surveys and habitat protec-
tion measures for kestrels on potential de-
velopment sites generally are not needed.

B. If the proposed development site satisfies ei-
ther condition A.i or A.ii, a thorough survey
of the area is needed to determine the biologi-
cal significance of the area for kestrels. Road
surveys should be conducted throughout the
site to locate kestrels. In situations where road
surveys do not adequately cover all potential
kestrel habitats on site or are not feasible,
transects should be conducted on foot. Foot
surveys should also be conducted to locate
nest sites. Appropriate transect methods are
outlined in Section 2. A map of the transects
should be reviewed by a habitat protection
specialist within the Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission prior to initiation of
the surveys. Locations of kestrel sightings and
nest sites should be plotted on a map of the site
depicting transect locations and habitat type
delineations.

C. Due to the wide range of habitat types used by
kestrels, suitable kestrel foraging habitat has
been classified into two broad categories. The
following definitionsfor suitable foraginghabi-
tat are based on vegetative structure and prey
base:

i. Type I Habitat: Upland plant communities
(e.g., pasture, grassland) with less than 10%
canopy cover and with at least 60% herba-
ceous ground cover less than 25 cm in height.

ii. Type II Habitat: Open woodland commu-
nities with greater than 10% but less than
25% woody canopy cover and with at least
60% herbaceous ground cover less than 25
cm in height.






D. If the site contains an active kestrel nest and
at least 50 ha (125 acres) of suitable foraging
habitat within 0.5 km of the active nest site,
then on-site habitat protection should be pur-
sued. The protection area should provide a
150 m radius buffer zone around each active
nest site and contain 50 ha (125 acres) of
suitable foraging habitat for each active kestrel
nest located on site. The habitat protection
area should include as many kestrel sighting
locations as possible. Five nest boxes should
be placed in the habitat protection area. Perch
sires, natural or man-made, should be main-
tained at a density of 0.5/ha. In some cases,
on-site habitat protection may not be feasible,
and off-site compensation for the loss ofkestrel
habitat may be an option. Oft-site compensa-
tion should only be considered in unusual
circumstances or when the habitat protection
area would consume more than 25% of all
developable uplands on site. If the habitat
protection area would consume more than
25% of all developable uplands on site, then
off-site mitigation should include the pur-
chase of land in an amount equal to 25% of all
developable uplands on sire. Otherwise, off-
site compensation should include the pur-
chase of land in ;an amount equal to the
acreage which would be required for the habi-
tat protection area (see section J below).

E. If the site contains an active kestrel nest and
between 10 and 49 ha of suitable foraging
habitat within 0.5 km of the active nest site,
then either on-site habitat protection or off-
site mitigation may he pursued. If on-site
habitat protection is pursued, then the habitat
protection area should contain all available
suitable foraging habitat on site within 0.5 km
of each active nest sire and include a 150 m
radius suffer zone around each active nest site.
The habitat protection area should include as
many kestrel sighting locations as possible.
Nest boxes should be placed in the habitat
protection area at a density of 1/10 ha. Perch
sites, natural or man-made, should be main-
tained at a density of 0.5/ha. If off-site mitiga-
tion is pursued, then compensation should
include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to the acreage which would be required


for the habitat protection area (see section J
below).

F. If the site contains an active kestrel nest and
less than 10 ha (25 acres) of suitable foraging
habitat within 0.5 km of the active nest site,
then either on-site protection of the nest site
or off-site mitigation may be pursued. If on-
site habitat protection is pursued, then the
habitat protection area should provide a 150
m radius buffer zone around each active nest
site. Two nest boxes should be placed within
the nest site buffer zone. If off-site mitigation
is pursued, then compensation should include
the purchase of land in an amount equal to
that required for the nest site buffer zone. In
the latter case, destruction of the nest site
must be accomplished outside of the breeding
season, and a permit from the Florida Game
and Fresh Water FishCommission (FGFWFC)
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) is required before taking an active
or inactive kestrel nest.

G. Ifthesite provides foraginghabitatforkestrel(s)
nesting off site, then either the amount of
suitable kestrel foraging habitat within 0.5 km
of on-site kestrel sightings, or the amount of
suitable kestrel foraging habitat within the
on-site kestrel use area, should be used to
calculate the area of suitable forage habitat
used by kestrels on site. One of the following
optionsshould bepursued based on theamount
of suitable foraging habitat occurring on site:

i. If the site contains at least 50 ha of suitable
foraging habitat within 0.5 km of initial
kestrelsightings orwithin the on-sitekestrel
use area, then on-site habitat protection is
recommended. The on-site habitat protec-
tion area should include 50 ha of suitable
kestrel foraging habitat. Five nest boxes
should be placed in the habitat protection
area. Perch sites, natural or man-made,
should be maintained at a density of 0.5/ha.
Off-site compensation should only he con-
sidered in unusual circumstances or when
the habitat protection area would consume
more than 25% of all developable uplands
on site.If the habitat protection area would






consume more than 25% of all developable
uplands on site, then off-site mitigation should
include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to 25% of all developable uplands on
site. Otherwise, off-site compensation should
include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to the acreage that would be required
for the habitat protection area (see section J
below).

ii. If there is at least 15 ha, but less than 50 ha,
of suitable kestrel foraging habitat within 0.5
km of initial kestrel sightings or within the
on-site kestrel use area, then either on-site
habitat protection or off-site compensation
may be pursued. If on-site habitat protection
is pursued, then the on-site habitat protec-
tion area should include all available suitable
foraging habitat, up to 49 ha. Nest boxes
should be placed in the habitat protection
area at a density of 1/10 ha. Perch sites,
natural or man-made, should be maintained
at a density of 0.5/ha. The habitat protection
area also should include as many kestrel sight-
ing locations as possible. If on-site habitat
protection is considered unfeasible, then off-
site mitigation for the loss of kestrel habitat
is recommended. Off-site compensation
should include the purchase of land in an
amount equal to the acreage that would be
required for the habitat protection area (see
section J below).

iii.If there is less than 15 ha (37 acres) of suitable
foraging habitat on sire, then habitat protec-
tion is generally not recommended. How-
ever, these areas should be considered for
protection if open, natural areas or green
spaces are required within the development
site.

H. Some sites may contain both kestrels and gopher
tortoises, two listed species with similar habitat
use. If a site contains both kestrels and gopher
tortoises, then habitat protection measures
should be pursued for both. There are several
options available, depending on the location
and type of habitat used by each species. If the
habitat requirements of the two species arc
compatible and their use areas are adjacent or


overlapping, then both species may be in-
cluded within a single habitat protection area.
The Ecology and Habitat Protection Needs of
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Popu-
lations Found on Lands Slated for Large-Scale
Developmentin Florida (Cox et al. 1987) should
be consulted for information on gopher tor-
toise habitat requirements and preservation
recommendations.

1. Management plans should be required as part
of the habitat protection process. Long-term
management of the kestrel habitat protection
area is essential for maintaining suitable habi-
tat for the kestrel. Arrangements for manage-
ment needs should be developed through con-
tracts with public or private entities. General
management guidelines are presented in Sec-
tion 3.

J. When off-site mitigation is the preferred op-
tion, off-site compensation may consist of a
purchase of land within a mitigation park that
contains suitable kestrel habitat. Another
option consists of the purchase of land adja-
cent to and contiguous with public lands where
management is compatible with kestrels. The
purchased land should contain suitable kestrel
habitat and would be donated to the entity
that holds title to the public lands. The
applicant must provide a one-time manage-
ment action to optimize forage value (e.g.,
controlled bur) and erect a minimum of 1
nest box/10 ha of purchased land.

K. The southeastern American kestrel is legally
protected by both the Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission and the United States
Fish and Wildlife Service. When off-site
mitigation is pursued and destruction or relo-
cation of a nest is required, state and federal
permits are required. Typically such permits
do not allow nest destruction during the breed-
ing season. Appropriate nest removal proce-
dures are provided in Section 3.






Enter Review Process



Does Based
the site on a
contain 50 ha preliminary survey,
(125 acres) of NO does the site
potential kestrel contain
habitat? kestrels?
NO
YES

YES

Habitat protection
Transect surveys for kestrels is
are needed. generally not
Construct a map recommended.
outlining habitat
coverage and
transect placement.



NO
Determine amount of
suitable kestrel forage
Does Were habitat within 0.5 km
the sie kestrels of Initial kestrel sightings
contain an active NO observed on-site YES- OR conduct additional
kestrel nest during surveys to determine
site? / \ surveys? on-site kestrel use area.



Go to 1 on
YES page 7.



Is the Is the
active active
kestrel kestrel
nest(s) located NO nest(s) located YES
In a natural in a man-made Leave nest in structure
structure? \Leave nest In structure e
site? / OR provide nest boxes around
active nest site and remove
YES the structure OR remove the
nest from the structure when
Sthe nest becomes vacant.
Go to 2 on Permits must be obtained prior
page 8. tn rmnoval







I





Does
the ate
contain at least
50 ha of suitable
kestrel forage habitat,
either within 0.5 km of Initial YES -
kestrel sightings OR
within the on-te
kestrel use
area?





NO






Does
the site
contain
15-40 ha of suitable
kestrel forage habitat,
either within 0.5 km of Initial YES -
kestrel sighlinge OR
within the on-aste
kestrel use
area?





NO





Habitat protection for
kestrale Is generally
not recommended.


On-sr habitat protection UI recommended.
Habitat protection a should Include
50 ha of sultabl forage habitat per ktrel
pair. Off-site mitigation should only be
considered In exceptional cases, OR
when the habitat protection area would
consume more than 25% of all developable
uplands on-ete.


On-ite habitat protection OR off-et
compensaton may be pursued. On-t
habitat protedlon should Include a
available suitable forage habitat within
0.5 km of Inl ketrl alghting OR within
the on-ea katral use area. Off-ste
compeneaton should include the
purchase of lend In an amount
equal to that required for th habitat
protection area












On-site habitat protection is recommended.
Habitat protection area should Include the
active nest site with a 150 m radius buffer
zone AND 50 ha of suitable forage habitat.
Off-site mitigation should only be considered
In exceptional cases, OR when the habitat
protection area would consume more than
25% of all developable uplands on-site.


On-sie habitat protection OR off-site
compensation may be pursued. On-site habitat
protection area should include the active nest
site with a 150 m radius buffer zone AND all
available suitable forage habitat within 0.5 km
of the nest site. Off-site compensation should
include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to that required for the habitat
protection area.


On-site habitat protection OR off-site
compensation may be pursued. On-site
habitat protection should Include
the active nest with a 150 m buffer
zone. Off-site compensation should
include the purchase of land in an
amount equal to that required for the
habitat protection area.







SECTION 1.

LIFE HISTORY CHARACTERISTICS AND GENERAL BIOLOGY


(uta r c) on sid of the ead (Phoa 18 B-n Toand)


DESCRIPTION

The Amertan kestrel i, the imot colorful and
smallest of the North Amercan falcons. It can be
identified byd ittme mf ous colooratnon its back
and talplumages (Brd and Palmer 1988) Bothsexes
have two blacktreak (moustaches) on ea side of
the head (Fgure 2) and a blue-gray patch encrclng a
rufous spot on the top ofhe e head (reduced or absent
Some) (Cade 1982) TheI utheastern ketrel s
about dhe ,eofarobm, wth the female larer (11.5 %)
thanthe male. Te mean body weights of F paulu
are 90.8 g for males and 102.6 g for females (Layne and
Smith 992).The meaning lengt ofF paulusare
approximately 1745mmforthe maleand 1817mm
for he female(LayneandSmih1992).Whenalarmed
or excited, thveketrl wll ve a hll and d ncve


killl" call in 3-6 hort, rapid bunts (Wiley 1978).
The sexes are easily ditingunshed based cn sexu-
ally dlmorphc coloraton. The male has blue-gray
wings, a few transverse black flecks and bars on the
back, and a buffy white underside with a few scattered
black spots. Also, the male's tall is nbared except for
a wide subterminal black band bordered by a narrow
white tp The female hasfous wings consistent with
the coloraton of the hack, numerous black traosverse
bars across the back and all, and a buffy white under-
sde streakedwithbrown. Youngbird attananadult-
like sexually dimorphic body plumage pror to fledg-
mg, a unique rait among North American ptors
(Johnsgard 990) Juvenlche rdsoftencanbedifferen-
eiated from the adults for several weeks pos-fledglng,


fledged kestrels also have a more conspcuour cream
tip to he ta, andhave bnghter plumage lackgflight
feathermolt dunng the summer and ll (J Laynepers
comm.)
The appearance of the resident F s paulua male
varies slightly from the wnterng F. sparenus m the
amount of potting on the abdomen. However, the
amount ofspotting highly marble, wth young male
F s paulu oftn so heavily spotted they are mistaken
fofemales(Collopy 1989,J.La.yne pecomm), Male
F s pauliutendtohavefewpots, usuallyontheflanks
under the wings, and darker buff coloration covering
approximatelyr two-thirds ofthe breast and abdomen,
while male F s spaorenu tend tohave oire r spots,
with sporting extendngfartheronto the abdomen and
breast (Brown and Amadon 1968). In the field,
femaoleo of the two aubpecrc are mdistmgushable
from one another. Both sexes of F. paulur average
smaller than other northern counterpart, with the
mean bodymas ofF s paulu about22% (males) and
26% (females) less than that ofF. s. sparveriua (Layne
nd Smith 1992).
In the past, the Amencan kestrel was frequently
referredto as the "parrowhawk." This common name
ofthe Amncn kestrel was erroneously apphedby the
early European settlers upon their arrival m North
A meca. Kestrels are the family Falondae and are






American Kestrel


not closely related to hawks (Accipitridae), as sug-
gested by the misleading name. The American kestrel
is the only resident species of kestrel occurring in the
western hemisphere.

RANGE

The American kestrel ranges throughout most
of North America. The range of F. s. sparverius is
widespread, breeding from Alaska southward through
Canada and into North America, northerly and west-
erly of the breeding range of F. s. paulus (Johnsgard
1990) (Figure 3). The resident subspecies, F. s. paulus,
has been reported breeding from southern portions of
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South
Carolina, and throughout all of Florida except the
southern-most counties and the Keys (Smallwood
1990). Nesting occurs in scattered sites in the pan-
handle and throughout the peninsula, with the highest
concentrations along the Central ridge from High-
lands County to Suwannee County. In Florida, the
wintering range ofF. s. sparverius overlaps that ofF. s.
paulus (Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986a). Year-round
roadside censuses in north central Florida during 1981-
82 revealed that 84% of all kestrel sightings occurred
in the winter (Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986a), a
clear indication of the influence of wintering kestrels


on local populations.
The kestrel's range is thought to be limited by a
combination of nest site availability, perch site avail-
ability, food supply, and suitable foraging habitat
(Balgooyen 1976). The kestrel requires all of these
elements in close proximity to one another. Nest site
availability has drastically decreased in north central
Florida due to removal of isolated longleaf pine trees
from agricultural fields (Hoffman 1983). In addition,
the availability of both nesting and foraging habitat
has decreased in south central Florida due to conver-
sion of longleaf pine-turkey oak (Quercus laevis) veg-
etation to citrus groves (Hoffman 1983).

DIET AND FEEDING BEHAVIOR

The major prey items of the southeastern Ameri-
can kestrel are insects, small rodents, reptiles, and
occasionally birds (Wiley 1978). Smallwood (1987)
found mostly grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders in food
pellets from wild-caught wintering birds in south cen-
tral Florida, with no sexual difference in diets. In north
central Florida insects appear to be the main prey item
throughout the year with an increase in lizards during
the breeding season (Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986b).
Insects are taken more frequently in pasture areas
whereas lizards are taken more often in pine-oak habi-


Figure 3. Geographic distribution of two American kestrel subspecies in the
Southeast (Smallwood 1990) and breeding locations of Falco sparverius
paulus in Florida. Open squares represent data obtained from Breeding Bird
Atlas records and closed circles represent data obtained from Florida Natural
Areas Inventory.





tat Sources of free water are not critcal to the ketrel
asitobtain an adeqate supply ofwaterfrom the prey
items It consumes (C. Layne pers. comm.).


(mostly lizards) (Smallwood 1990). By utilizing hz-
ards, the kestrel, are maxinming their energy cost-
benefit ratios when feeding several yiung (Bohall-


preence afopn woodland habitat rps, where lizarl
arc typically captured, may be a cterion in habitat
selection.
Prey is usually captured with the feet and killed
wit th e hbak (ohnsgard 1990), with small meects
often carried in the bank (J. Layne pers. comm.)
Various prey capture e ichmques are employed, mclud-
ing perch hunting, flight hunting, and hbver hunting
(CollopyandKoplmnl983) Malesandfemales appear
to be equIa in prey capture success, with percent
ucxceful pounces of 73% and 76% for males and
females, respetvelI (Smallwood 1987). The major-








-v"lW


(PF reb4 Adui n TiA ankeinpernie)rld ef n
(PharobrerrmnTrLOl


Bird 1990,JohnTd 1990). Perch hunmngaccounted
for 75 8% and 70.1% of invertebrate prey captured by
female kestrees in Cahfornia dan r rwo winterpcnrd
(Collupy nd Kuplin 1983). Perchhunting accounted
for 80.5% ol the time spent hunting by kestrels in
north central Florida (Bohall 1984), emphasng the
importance ofperch sites. Th kestrel is opportunaitic




inghabitat are preferable (Smallwood 1990) Kestrels
n suth central Florida usually made pounces within
S56 radiusofperch sires (Smalwod 1987). lover
hunting i employed when visibility is poor (eg tall
vegetation) The frequency of hover hunting aso
ancreascswirh ambientwindspeed (Smallwod 1990)
During hover-hunting, kestrel hover 15-0 im abve
the ground for periods not usually exceeding one
minute (IBrd and Palmer 1988).
Most huntlg occurs in open parches with short
grass or sparse ground lover. The malnty (97.5%) of
hunting attempts occurs over substrates oft grades and
weedy oris < 25 cm mn height (Smallwood 1987).
Teritorie have mean coverage of 52% grsses < 25
cm in height (Smallwood 1987). Hunting is most
frequent in pictures, roadde berns, a own hayfields,
openorchards, and lansmparklandarea (Smallwood
1990). Open areas of hort vegetation are critical
foraging areas Woody canopy is negatvelycorrelated
with the anournt of ultable housing surstrare, with
rreesandshtbsformigai vl ~ll mer which restricts
areas available to a hung kestrel (Smllwood 1987)
However, open woodland areas (avg 20% woody


plantationsdiu tdese undersory vegeranon (Rohall
1984).

NEST ENVIRONMENT

Kecktr[ ate -econdar cavity nesters, and typical
of most secondary t nestng birds, they use aban-
donednestcavitiesxcavatedbywoodpecker (Raphael
1985), primarily those excavated by northern flckers
(Coapi(saureatuC) or pleared woodpeckers (Driocopu
pdeatl). However, kestrels are fairly flexbl in nest
sire election and are not totally dependent on any




sgle species torovide sutablenest caves (Hoffman
1983). They are alo known to use enlarged red-
headed wodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) cavi-
ties, but n unaltered net opening excavated by this

"natural nest sites used by kestrels are in abandonedor
occupled building (Hamer-trom et al 1973, Toland
and Elder 1987).
Mort tree cavtles are in dead trees (snags) (Fgure
5) Of61 civlt nest sires examined I north central
Florida, 59 (96.7%) were located n dead trees, of
which those at an termediate tage of decay (twigs
absent, afew main hmbs > 1 m length, < 50% of the
rop of the ree intact, and approximately fl% of the
bark left intat) were dspropornonately selected
(Hofinan 1983).
The majotyofnest tree north central Florida
are in association with pastures or cultivated farmland
(Figure 6), or within areas of longleaf pine-rurkey oak
woodlands, and nest occur mostfrequently m longleaf
pine, turkey ok, ,A r a lk e oak (Q argtana) sng ,,,,, ,
man-made structures (Hoft an and Collopy 1987).
Hoffman (1983) found a ignlanf t correlation be-
tween the density f snags wth > 24 cm dbh and the
density ofnag with active net or roostt clearct
within the Ocaa Natonl Forest. Fvery carcut that
had a density large > 24cmdbh) nags greater than
five per40 a had a densty ot activenaggreater than
Nest treesand eaves measured in nrt central
Florida mdcate kestres there prmarly usesnagswith
a mean dbh of 3045 cm and mean nest hle height of
725 m Cavite used by kestrel (n=37) had a mean
entrance ldth of 72 25 mm, a mean entrance height
of94 25 mm, a mean m-etalr diamter of 13 i1 cm,
anda meandepth f 27.4cm(Hoffman 198) Cavty

sitablhty and high use of pdeated woodpecker cav
ties by kestrels
Although the avallabthtv of natural nest sites is
considered to be one of the Imltng factors of kestrel
ditrbutio anid abundance, estrel readily -let
man-made boxe within a variety of habitat types
(Wisconsin: Hamerstrom et aL 1973, Colorado.
Stahlecker and CGnse 1979, Calfoanl-: Bloom and
Hawks 1983,WerVirgini andPennsylvana Wilmers
1983, Missou Toland and Elder 1987) In central
Missourh kestrels prefer nest boxes to natural cavities


even when natural ca s are abundant (Tland and
Elder 1987). Placement of nesboxe has increased
the breeding population ofkestrels areas here net
steps were considered a liitg actor (Hamerstromet
al 1973, Stahleker and Gnese 1979, J. Smallwood
pers comm ) Kestrelsmaybemoreeapttonest areas
with several available nest sites (hoxes) (Hamerstrom
metal 1973)

lve trees, and boxes placed at a height of 7 0 m or
hgher are used more often than those placed 6.0 in r
lower (Toland and Elder 1987) However, kestrel in
north central Florida usednest boxes placed on utty
poles and trees equally, with nest boxes at various
height (4.0-5.5 m) alo used equally (J. Smallwood
pers.comm) Kestelsalso appeartoprfe r nestboxe
with southerly or easterly open ngs (Balgooyen 1976,
McCmb and Noble 1981, Tolndd ndder 1987). In
north central Florida kestrel use nest boxes with a
westerly opening ess than expected, but nest boxes
with openings fac, g all other major compasl drec-
ions (N, S, E, NE, NW, SE) were used equally (open-


I













yp <--!
^9 n











LA


igs facing SW not eluded due to insfficient num-
erofboxes) (J. Smallwood percoammr). Nes boxes
within open to moderate canopy coverage and
unocatruced entrances were the oly nest boxued
by kstrl in a Californla snIdy (Bloom and Hawks
1983). Nest boxes placed in open areas at dsnces
greater than 50 m from woods border are used signifi-
cantly more often than boxes placed nearer wtods
border (Wdmers 1981). Unobstructed flght path to
nest boxes alre uportat factor in nest box use.
Power lne towers can be an important tool n kestrel
management. Nest boxplacementonpower lnepoles
increased a local population n Colorado from a mn-
mum of sx par to a leatr 25 (Srahlecker and Gnese
1979). Placementnetar woodedareasmay mcrraua
by quimtels (Toland and Elder 1987) and in farmland
areas by starln (Stalecker and Cnese 1979).

HABITAT REQUIREMENTS

Thc wmtenng migrant F s parvenus is not limn
ited by nest site availability t d on ly requreC foraging


and rooting habitat whde in Florida, allowing for
more varable habitat election. However, F, spaulus


sametemtoryyear afteryear (ohall-WoodandCollopy
1986a, Layne per. comn.). Although F. s. paulus
often remams paired throughout the year, pair may
split up during the winter and reunite during the
breeding eason. Variahtry in "strength" of pair
bonding during the winter months may he due to the
quahty offoragng habitat around nest site (J. Layne
per, comm.). Breeding pairs remaining on nesting
tcrritonce year-round suggest that intersexual compe-
titionforfooddunng the winter i not factor (Bohall-
Wood and Colopy 1986a). Defense ofnestmngternto-
nesbyF s poauludecreasesdurmgohewmermonths,
often allowing winter migrants in close proximy to
the nest area (Chance 1978).
In Florida. theutheastemAmericankestrel pre-
fers open habnars including pastures, open longleaf
pme-turkeyoak sandhill communities, grasslands, and
open its wthm suburban and residential areas (e g,
golf courses, park) The habitat lust eet two basic
criracre 1)sutable openareas ofshort vegetation wth
scattered perch ires and an adequate prey base, and 2)
suitable nest sites Additionally, these habitat ele-
eenLs must be n close proximty to each other.
In north central Florida, kestrels prefer open pine
woodlands n aociaton with pasture-lke open areas
andpastures withinvaousplant communities (Nom
1976, lyne 1980, Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986a).
Radside surveys conducted during th summer in
north central Flonda indicated kestrels were most
abundant (88%) n sandhill clna.taitlest- aotaed
with open areas (.e., pastures), and of thoue found m
agriculture/mxedhardwood areas, the maority(83%)
wa ungpastures (Bohall-Woodanod Collopy 1986a)
There were no sexual differences i habitat preference
or in the size of the open areas used. Most kestrel
observed In sandhlll ommuntloes were moapenareas <
25 ha whdoe hs observed n the agriculture/hard-
wood areas were in open areas of 26-75 ha m se.
The andhdal community occurs on rdges and s
characterize by tie Chandler-Apopka sol sasOca-
tion n northernlonda (Hoffmn and Collopy 1987).
Marure candhill communities have an veretory of
scarered longlcaf pines and an understory of xenc
uaks, partrcullyurkey ayk; the characrstic ground
cover is wiregrasses (Acisida cmri and Spmrbobla
junceu) (Hrtman 1978) in their nutun state sand-





hill communities are maintained manopen ond


have resulted in turkey oaks domnnan many sires
(Hoffman and Collopy 1987). Area. wih dense un-
derstorie are unsuitable ketrel foraging habitat, bitl
ny corntaln suitable nestsites figuree 7). Thevegeta-
tuin composition on wetter sites may nor produce the
prey required by kestrels (Iohall 1984).
Some atypical lhablls and nest ies include nests
within the beams of a large electrcal transformer
starton (Figure 8), in the roof of an equipment shed at
an active business (Figure 9), and m structures at an
airport (Figure 10) (J. Layne pers. comm ). Although
these areas eem unusual, they all provide adequ.er
nest se in close pruox mty to suitable foraging habi-
tar. Thebeclrcumnranccs where thebirds have adapted
to highdistrhance areas how how adaptable kestrels
are
There are cunflcrmg ed.l clrlIcenring oxual ieg
reganonofhalbriaby inllienlnu lgr nk rrel. Many
studieshacconcludcd that rintermngmlgrant kestrel
appear to ereeat habitat use by sex (Koplm 1973,
Mills 1976, Strmon er a. 1981, Cade 1982, BohalI
1984, Smith 1986, Smailwood 1987) whde others
have shown they do Ino (Bildteln 1978, Maciander
1983, Toland 1987). Habatut ,egregitin may have
evolved a a way to avoid or reduce ntrpeclfic
competition for food (Cade 1982) or may be theresult
of dfferentlal ulraltin r time with one sex arrmvmg
onthewmnternnggrouiindflt (Smallood 1988) The
degree of sexual habitat egregaoun depend on the
configuranon of the landscape and appears mt rele t
iumate sexdfferences (J Layln, pen. comm.). B&Ihall
(1984) tlund liha male and female F >, pulus in
Flonda did nor exhibit a difference n habitat type,
opening size or perth preference during summer or
wmter. Female F paulu, did, however, show a
ign fcanr shift in habitat preference rom open hab-
tats n lnter to a more closed habitat m summer
withn longleal e-Il urkey oak community m north
central Flonda (Bohalll 1984) Males did nor exhibit
asignlficant shit m habitatpreference betwr n r uaer
and summer, but male sightngs in the sandhall woud-
lands did increar from winter to summer
Breeding deastlr appeara to be highly variable,
dependent on et sne aradabdl and haba type
suiroundmg net. n nnlrh cer.llrr ida keorel
breeding dnolty ua. loud to be 041 palrs/km2 In
areasofluonlcafpin-tukey oakand 0.14 pairs/kinhl


density to be 0.67 pairs/km in areas of longleaf pine
ntrkey -ak and 0 49 pairs/km in areas of hardwood
hammock vegetation (Bohall 1984) Differences m
ketrel abundance between andhll communities and
hardwendl Ismalks may be attIrbuted rodlffierence
in prey pulration (Bohall-Wood and Cullupy 1987)
Hardwood hammock areas also may have low poten-
tl for kestrel ueduc tothedensecover. Pastures with
isolated longlef pine trees were theprincipal nesting
habitat on BerI Ranch In Alclrua County, with
breeding delitieof 1.6 nd 1.4 pair/km during 1982
and 1983 (Hofman and Collopy 1987). The average
breeding dcnstrv ws 2 I pir /km', with abour 0.5 km
between nest sites, m areas oflonglearplne-turkey oak
habitat on the Ordway Preserve iii Putnra County,
Florida (Hoftman 1983). In Misssspp, ketrels were
found netting almut colonrally where there were
abundantnstsites (Bird and Palmer 1988). In urh-





--T~


tire, cirmen~e nu rat na ae i tat maarea unremefor

Su,, ,,,O













































Figure 8. Active kestrel nest site located in a beam of an electrical transformer station (Photo by James N. Layne, Archbold Biological Station).
Arrow indicates location of nest.


-~Y.
i .:hi rU~f~~f~X~\r 1
i
,i-'
r ?
??~i~'
:r
r .
.r

I ,
i;


Figure 9. Active kestrel nest site located in the roof of a building at an active business (Photo by James N. Layne, Archbold Biological Station).
Arrow indicates location of nest.


i, :
~
,,































Figure 10. Active kestrel nest site located in an observation tower at an airport (Photo by James N. Layne, Archbold Biological Station). Arrow
indicates location of nest.


western Quebec, territory size of breeding kestrels
varied inversely with available food resources (small
rodents), supporting the supposition that kestrels ad-
just breeding territory size in response to prey availabil-
ity (Gard and Bird 1990).
Average diameter of territories for breeding pairs
ranges from 0.75 km in Missouri (Toland 1983), 2.42
km in Michigan and Wyoming (Craighead and
Craighead 1956), 0.82 km in Utah (Smith et al. 1972),
and 0.66 km in Jamaica (Cruz 1976). The large
variation in territory size may be due to differences in
food and nest site availability (Bird and Palmer 1988).
Hoffman (1983) found that in high quality habitat
(i.e., sandhill woodlands) in Florida, kestrel territory
size was approximately 50 ha (124 acres). However, in
disturbed or cleared sandhill woodlands a breeding
pair may require 116-317 ha (Bohall 1984, Hoffman
and Collopy 1987).
Kestrels typically roost in trees or buildings that
provide cover from predators. Food pellets have been
recovered from nest boxes outside of the breeding
season, indicating that under some circumstances
kestrels roost in nest boxes (J. Smallwood pers. comm.).
In Missouri during the winter, kestrels roosted in nest
boxes and used the top of the nest box as a feeding
platform (Toland and Elder 1987). Roost sites typi-


cally are in close proximity to available foraging and
breeding areas. Roost trees close to nest sites also
provide initial perch sites for fledglings (J. Layne pers.
comm.). First flight attempts often end with the
fledglings on the ground. The young can usually make
it to the lower branches of a nearby tree.

REPRODUCTION AND BREEDING
BEHAVIOR

Courtship and pair bonding in the southeastern
American kestrel begin near the end ofJanuary (Bohall-
Wood and Collopy 1986b). Important components of
pair bonding include aerial displays, nest site selection,
and courtship feeding of the female by the male
(Johnsgard 1990). Pair formation is initiated by males
establishing territories. Females begin associating and
hunting with a territorial male, with copulation closely
following (Johnsgard 1990). Kestrels are often much
more visible during courtship due to the increased
amount of activity and vocalizations. During the
breeding season kestrels often call in either the "whine"
or chitterr" (Willoughby and Cade 1964, Bird and
Palmer 1988). The whine is most often heard during
courtship feeding, copulation, and food begging by the
female and flying young. The whine may last for 1-2
minutes. The chitter is usually associated with friendly





approach and bodily contact between males and fe-
males, as well as with nest site inspection (Willoughby
and Cade 1964).
Two common aerial courtship displays are the
dive-display and flutter-glide (Johnsgard 1990). In the
dive-display, the male will perform a series of climbs and
dives with 3-5 killy notes uttered near the peak of each
ascent (Johnsgard 1990). The primary purpose of the
dive-display is territory advertisement, and it is fre-
quently exhibited directly over the female (Bird and
Palmer 1988). In the flutter-glide kestrels fly slowly
with quick, shallow wingbeats. Both males and females
flutter-glide. Females are most frequently observed
flutter-gliding when begging for food, males observed
most frequently during aerial food transfer (Bird and
Palmer 1988, Johnsgard 1990). Nest site selection
begins with the male initiating a nest site search. Kestrels
appear to be dominant over most other cavity nesting
birds using similar size cavities and may evict current
residents of suitable cavities (Johnsgard 1990).
Eggs are laid directly on any debris that may be
present on the cavity floor; nesting material is not
brought into the cavity (Wiley 1978). Egg color varies
from white to a yellowish or light reddish-brown, typi-
cally blotched or mottled with gray or brown (Bird and
Palmer 1988). In Florida, three to five eggs are laid mid-
March to May (Wiley 1978), with incubation lasting
29-31 days (Wiley 1978, Johnsgard 1990). Both sexes
incubate, but the majority of incubation is by the female
(Wiley 1978, Bird and Palmer 1988, Johnsgard 1990, J.
Smallwood pers. comm.). The male does most of the
hunting during the incubation period and the first week
following hatching (Bohall-Wood and Collopy 1986b).
During incubation the male does not bring food into the
nest for the female, but will land nearby and call her out
(Foran et al. 1984). Hatching occurs over a period of 3-
4 days with the young fledging approximately 30 days
later (Wiley 1978, Johnsgard 1990, Varland et al. 1991).
At hatching, the young have pink skin covered with
short, silvery-white down which is soon replaced by
longer white down (Bird and Palmer 1988). A week or
two after the eggs hatch the female leaves the nest and
begins to assist the male with feeding the young (Bohall-
Wood and Collopy 1986b). The young develop very
quickly, growing to their adult weight in 16-17 days
(Johnsgard 1990). Sustained flight is attained 3-4 days
post-fledging (B. Toland pers. comm.).
Both males and females continue bringing food to
the young several weeks post-fledging (Bird and Palmer
1988). A significant increase in the rate of capture of


prey by the young occurs approximately 4-5 weeks after
fledging, with the fledglings remaining social among
themselves, often hunting together prior to dispersal
(Varland et al. 1991).

RECRUITMENT AND MORTALITY

Mean hatching success rate has been reported as
high as 89%, with an overall reproductive success rate
(successful fledgings per egg) of 87.5% (Balgooyen 1976).
Hatching success rate has also been reported as 78%
(HeintzelmanandNagy 1968), 67% (Smithetal. 1972),
and 64% (J. Smallwood pers. comm.). Sex ratio of the
young at hatching is near 1:1 (Heintzelman and Nagy
1968, Porter and Wiemeyer 1972, Balgooyen 1976).
Kestrels can successfully rear two broods within a
single breeding season. Food availability and weather
conditions appear to determine, in part, whether a
kestrel pair will attempt to raise two broods (Newton
1979). Double brooding has been reported in Florida
(Howell 1932) and speculated to have occurred in
Colorado (Stahlecker and Griese 1977) and Oklahoma
(Black 1979, Sutton 1979). Toland (1985) found that
11.8% (1982) and 33% (1983) of a color-marked popu-
lation under study in Missouri had double broods, with
the average size of second clutches slightly smaller than
initial clutches, and hatching success of 86% and 73%
for initial and second clutches, respectively. In addi-
tion, early nesters whose initial nests were unsuccessful
can successfully renest, and in one case 82% renested in
their original territories (Bowman 1986). Early nesting
kestrels have better nesting success as measured by a
greater probability of raising a second brood, laying
replacement clutches, and a higher mean number of
young fledged per pair (Toland 1985). Henny (1972)
estimated that each breeding female must produce 2.88
young per year for a population to remain stable. Year-
ling birds of both sexes are capable of breeding (Bird and
Palmer 1988).
Dispersal of young from nest sites occurs 23-24 days
after fledging (Varland et al. 1991). Dispersal occurs
gradually, with the young wandering farther and farther
from nest sites over a period of several weeks (Harb
1988). Adult birds near Archbold Biological Station
did not show any signs of aggression toward their young
at the time of dispersal, suggesting that the kestrels do
not "drive off" or "lure" their young away from the nest
site (Harb 1988). During post fledging wanderings,
microhabitat may influence movement and ultimate
dispersal direction (Harb 1988). Estimates based on a






very limited data set from south central Florida revealed
dispersal distances of 8.05-9.65 km, with one juvenile
dispersing about 29 km (J. Layne pers. comm.). Habitat
suitability and availability probably are two of the major
factors in determining how far kestrels will disperse.
Reports of nestling mortality are few; however,
mortality of nestlings to snakes and fire ants have
occurred in north central Florida (J. Smallwood pers.
comm.). Chances of mortality are highest during the
first year of life (about 69%) and survival rate is about
50:50 for each year thereafter (Brown and Amadon
1968, Henny 1972). Layne (1982) found motor ve-
hicles to be the cause in 52% of birds found killed,
injured, or incapacitated. Mammalian and avian preda-
tors are potential factors :,,I I.. ,. -.. nest success rates
and juvenile and adult survival rates.






SECTION 2.
DETERMINING LOCAL POPULATION SIZE AND
HABITAT QUALITY


INTRODUCTION

The procedures detailed in this section are for
use in determining the significance of an area to
southeastern American kestrels. If kestrels are found
foraging or nesting on site, then habitat protection
measures for kestrels typically are recommended. The
first step in determining the importance of a site to
kestrels is to map all potential kestrel habitat. If a site
contains at least 50 ha of potential kestrel habitat,
then surveys should be conducted to determine the
extent of kestrel use of the site. Roadside surveys
supplemented with foot surveys are prescribed to de-
termine presence and location of kestrels occurring on
site. If kestrels are found on the site, then further
surveys should be conducted to locate any kestrel nests
that may be present. Recommendations concerning
habitat protection procedures, based on the amount of
suitable kestrel habitat found on the site and on the
type of kestrel use of the area as determined through
surveys, are found in Section 3.

HABITAT INVENTORY AND MAPPING

The primary objective of the procedures described
below is to develop a vegetation map of the proposed
site with all plant communities used or potentially
used by kestrels delineated. Plant communities should
be mapped on aerial photographs (1 inch = 200 ft), and
a summary table of number of ha (acres) of each habitat
type on site should be prepared. Habitat types should
follow the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classifi-
cation System (Florida Department of Transportation
1985).
The following classes may be potential kestrel
habitat (number in parenthesis represents designation
in the classification system):

Recreational land (180), improved pasture
(211), unimproved pasture (212), woodland
pasture (213), specialty farms (250), other
openlands (260), herbaceous rangeland (310),
coniferous forest (4101), pine flatwoods


(4111), longleaf-xeric oak (4121), pine-mesic
oak (4141), xeric oak (4211), hardwood-co-
nifer mixed (4341), mixed hardwood (4381),
forest regeneration areas (443), rural land in
transition without positive indicators of in-
tended activity (741), burned areas (745).

Kestrel use of a site can also be divided into two
broad categories based on the structural characteristics
of the vegetation. To further define potential kestrel
use of a site, the following habitat types should be
mapped as an overlay on the map of potential habitat
types listed above.


Type I Habitat:


Upland plant communities with
less than 10% canopy closure
and with at least 60% herba-
ceous ground cover of less than
25 cm in height.


Type II Habitat: Open woodland communities
with greater than 10% but less
than 25% canopy closure and
with at least 60% herbaceous
ground cover less than 25 cm
in height.


SURVEYING FOR KESTRELS

The primary objective of the procedures described
below is to determine the number of southeastern
American kestrels or kestrel pairs on the proposed
development site. Secondary objectives include map-
ping locations of kestrel sightings and obtaining loca-
tions of active and potential nest sites. The most
effective survey technique for kestrels involves the use
of roadside transects supplemented with foot transects
as necessary. Roadside transects should meet the
following criteria:

(1) The transect routes should pass through all
potential kestrel habitats present on the site.






(2) The habitat along road transects should be
open enough to allow sighting of individual
birds at considerable distances.

Foot surveys should be utilized in areas where
visibility from the road is limited, areas that are inac-
cessible by roads, or habitat areas that are under-
represented by road transects. Additionally, foot sur-
veys should be used to locate nest sites.

Survey design

If there is an extensive road network on a pro-
posed development site, random selection of road
transects is preferable; however road transects should
be placed so that all potential kestrel habitat is sur-
veyed. The distance between transects should be
spaced according to the limits on visibility imposed by
vegetation and terrain. On sites with limited roads,
the surveys should be supplemented with foot surveys.
Foot surveys should be conducted in those areas un-
suitable for, or inaccessible by, road transects. Field
personnel should establish parallel line transects spaced
so that all areas that qualify as Type I or Type 11 habitat
are surveyed. Transect length and distances between
transects will vary with size of the area, topography,
and vegetative structure. All transects should be
marked on a map of the area and, if necessary, identi-
fied by numbering individual transects.
Surveys must be carried out during the spring and
summer (i.e., April-August). Surveys outside this
time-frame would over-estimate the number of resi-
dent kestrels on site due to inclusion of wintering
kestrels. Conducting surveys early in the breeding
season may enhance the ability to sight kestrels, which
should be conspicuously involved in courtship behav-
ior. Surveys should be conducted during the morning
hours, from sunrise to 3-4 hours past, on calm, clear
days. A driving speed of 10-25 mi/hour is recom-
mended, varying in response to terrain, road condi-
tion, or visibility. High traffic roads which would
prohibit slow driving or frequent stopping should be
avoided. The same individuals) should conduct all
surveys to eliminate observer bias. Direction of travel
along transects should be reversed on alternate surveys
toeliminate direction of travel bias. Surveys should be
conducted 6-8 times with 4-7 days between each.
Equipment required to complete kestrel surveys
and nest site surveys includes:


(1) Vehicle.

(2) Binoculars and spotting scope.

(3) Map

(4) Rangefinder.

(5) Compass.


Survey Protocol

Location of kestrels-Surveyors conducting road
transects should observe both sides of the road, looking
for kestrels perched on fencerows, telephone poles and
lines, and trees, and for kestrels flying or hovering.
When a kestrel is sighted the observer should stop the
vehicle and record the location (both by odometer
reading and on the map). Binoculars and spotting
scopes should be used to verify identification. The
specific habitat category for each kestrel observed
should be recorded at the point where the kestrel was
first observed. The perpendicular distance from the
center of the road to the kestrel should he measured
(rangefinder) and plotted on the map. An attempt
should be made to identify the sex of the kestrel. If the
kestrel leaves or moves to a new location while being
observed, the flight direction and possibly the location
where the kestrel lands should be noted. Behavior and
vocalizations should be noted, especially behavior that
would indicate courtship or nesting.
Surveyors on foot transects should walk transects
at a steady pace. Often birds will silently flush before
being observed as surveyors approach a territory. The
surveyor should look for and record signs of kestrel
activity (e.g., prey remains, feathers at plucking sites,
white feces stains accumulated at perches or roosts).
The surveyor should also look for potential nest sites
while conducting foot surveys. Potential nest sites
include dead or dying trees, dead limbs on trees, and
buildings. Locations of kestrels, possible kestrel activ-
ity, and potential nest sites should be recorded on a
map (compass direction and distance from a perma-
nent landmark). Habitat type and use should be
recorded for kestrel sightings. Binoculars should be
used to identify and possibly determine the sex of the
birds. Upon completion of all transects, surveys for
nest sites should begin.

































Figure 11. Active kestrel nest site located in an ivy covered snag
(Photo by James N. Layne, Archbold Biological Station).

Location of nest sites-Although potential nest site
areas can be identified from road surveys, foot surveys
will be needed in most instances for locating actual
nests. Behavior and vocalizations are clues to stages of
the reproductive cycle and can aid in the location of
nests. The surveyor should return to areas where
kestrels were repeatedly located; or where kestrel pairs
were observed; or where kestrels were exhibiting court-
ship, breeding, or territorial defense behavior during
the roadside transects (or foot transects if they were
necessary). If the kestrel(s) are in sight upon arriving
in an area, the surveyor should observe the bird for
signs of courtship, nesting behavior and vocalizations,
and look for kestrel nest sites in snags, old woodpecker
cavities, and buildings. Although longleaf pine snags
are the most frequently used nest tree, surveyors should
examine possible nest sites in all types of trees (i.e.,
species and stages of decay) (Figure 11). Kestrels are
known to nest in a variety ofplaces and nothing should
be overlooked. Nest site location should be recorded
(plotted on map with record of compass direction and
distance from a permanent landmark) upon nest site


confirmation. Location of a nest site can be confirmed
by observing the use of a cavity or nest structure by
kestrels, the presence of a pair of kestrels exhibiting
courtship and reproductive behavior in the vicinity of
possible nest sites, or presence of nestling or fledgling
kestrels at a nest site. Measurements at the nest should
include tree species, stage of decay, and nest tree
health. If the nest is in a man-made structure, the type
of structure, physical state of the structure (e.g., occu-
pied, abandoned, falling over), and location of the nest
within or on the structure should be recorded.
Locations of snags observed on road and foot
surveys should be plotted on the area map. All struc-
tures (man-made and natural) which qualify as suit-
able perch sites also should be recorded and plotted on
the area map.

DETERMINATION OF KESTREL
HABITAT USE ON SITES THAT LACK
NESTS

If kestrels are sighted on a proposed development
site, but an active nest site is not located, then it can
be assumed that the kestrel(s) are nesting off site and
utilizing on-site habitat for foraging. In this situation
the on-site kestrel observations will most likely be in
close proximity to the boundary of the site. If this
situation occurs, kestrel habitat use should be deter-
mined using one of the two methods outlined below.
However, if the kestrel observations from the initial
surveys are not within 0.5 km of suitable foraging
habitat on site, then further surveys and habitat pro-
tection generally are not recommended.
The first method for determining the habitat used
by kestrels for foraging is to simply identify all suitable
kestrel foraging habitat on site within 0.5 km of the
locations of kestrel sightings from initial surveys. The
amount, up to 50 ha, of suitable kestrel foraging habitat
delineated in this manner should serve as the on-site
habitat protection area if on-site habitat protection is
pursued.
The second method for determining the habitat
used by kestrels for foraging is creation of an on-site
kestrel use area map. This method should be used
when it is necessary or desirable to determine the size
of the kestrel use area more accurately than is possible
by simply mapping all suitable forage habitat within
0.5 km of initial kestrel sightings. The on-site kestrel
use area should be determined by intensively surveying
the area for new kestrel sightings. The surveyors













should return to the on-sire areas) where the kestrels
were observed during initial surveys. Foot surveys
should be conducted throughout su itable foraging habi-
tat in the areas of initial kestrel sightings. Foot transects
should be established in a grid at 100 in intervals
(Figure 12). Stakes with flagging should be placed at
100 m intervals to mark transect lines. Direction of
travel along the transects should be alternated be-
tween surveys. For example, surveyors should follow
the north-south transects for the first survey and the
cast-west transects on the following survey, alternat-
ing direction until all surveys are complete (Figure 12).
All kestrel sightings should be plotted on the area map.
Surveys should be conducted 6-8 times. Surveys should
be completed following the same seasonal, time of day,
and weather condition restrictions that apply to the
initial surveys.
Upon completion of surveys, the on-site kestrel
use area should be delineated. The outermost perched
kestrel sighting locations should be used in delineating
the boundary. The on-site kestrel use area should
encompass all suitable habitat 60 m beyond these
outermost sighting locations (Figure 12). The delin-
eated on-site kestrel use area should serve as the
habitat protection area if on-site habitat protection is
pursued.

SURVEY REPORT

A final report, including data sheets and maps,
should be provided to review and regulatory agencies.
A data sheet should be filled out for each survey
conducted and should include the following informa-
tion:

1. Date, starting and ending time, and starting
and ending odometer readings of each survey
conducted.

2. Weather conditions during each survey, in-
cluding average temperature, wind speed and
direction, precipitation, and percent cloud
cover.

3. Direction of travel and beginning and ending
points of transects.

4. Odometer reading at each sighting location.

5. Sex of bird, bird activity and behavior, single


bird or possible pair.

6. Nest site information including type of struc-
ture (natural or man-made); physical state of
the structure; and tree species and stage of
decay for those nests located in a tree.

The aerial photograph should include:

1. The vegetative characteristics of the entire
area of interest.

2. Boundaries and locations of Type I and Type II
kestrel habitat.

3. Locations of transect lines.

4. Locations of all kestrels sighted while conduct-
ing the surveys.

5. Locations of nest sites.

6. Boundaries of the kestrel use area, including
sighting locations and nest sites.






ROAD

POWER LINE
... TRANSECT LINES
S- - PERCHED KESTREL LOCATION:
S INITIAL SURVEY
..... PERCHED KESTREL LOCATION:
USE SURVEY
SWoods CALCULATED KESTREL USE AREA










Figure 12. Portion of a proposed development site with kestres nesting off-site but foraging on-site. Kestrel locations as determined
from initial surveys and kestrel use area surveys are plotted. Kestrel use area surveys are conducted along transects at 100 m
intervals. Perched kestrel locations are used to determine kestrel use area and thus the area for on-site habitat protection. Kestrel
use area boundaries are 60 m from outermost identified perched kestrel locations.





SECTION 3.

PROCEDURES FOR IMPLEMENTING PRESERVATION
MEASURES


PRESERVATION RECOMMENDATIONS

Preservation of habitat (foraging and nesting)
critical to the survival and maintenance of kestrels can
be accomplished by on-site habitat protection as well
as off-site mitigative compensation. I habitat protec-
tion in either event is recommended when 1) kestrels
are both nesting and foraging on site, 2) kestrels are
nesting on site but foraging off site, and 3) kestrels are
nesting off site but foraging on site. In most situations,
on-site habitat protection is preferable, rather than
off-site compensation for habitat loss. Exclusive on-
site habitat protection is recommended whenever the
required acreage for the habitat protection areas) is <
25% of all developable uplands on site and the site
contains at least 50 ha ofsuitable foraging habitat. On-
site protection or off-site compensation may be pur-
sued when less than 50 ha of suitable foraging habitat
is located on site. Off-site mitigation techniques are
discussed in further detail in Section 4.
The on-site habitat protection area (50 ha) is the
amount of properly managed suitable habitat required
by a breeding pair of southeastern American kestrels.
However, for suitable foraging habitat to be available,
adequate perch sites must be left on the protection area
orprovided. A density of 0.5 perch sites/ha provides an
adequate coverage of an area for kestrels perch hunt-
ing. Most prey capture pounces area made within a 56
m radius of perch sites. Nest boxes at a density of 1/10
ha will provide needed alternative nest sites. Nest box
placement and perch site maintenance should follow
procedures described in MANAGING PROTECTION
AREAS later in this section. If the plans for the
proposed development call for destruction or reloca-
tion of a kestrel nest (active or inactive), actual re-
moval of the nest site must be accomplished outside of
the breeding season and with a permit issued pursuant
to Rule 39-27.002(2), Florida Administrative Code,
and Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations.

Kestrels nesting and foraging on site

If an active kestrel nest is located on site and at
least 50 ha of suitable foraging habitat is within 0.5 km


of the nest site, then on-site habitat protection is
recommended. The habitat protection area should
contain a 150 m radius buffer zone around the active
nest site and 50 ha of suitable foraging habitat. The
habitat protection area should include as many kestrel
sighting locations as possible. Five nest boxes should
be placed in the habitat protection area, and perch
sites should be maintained at a density of 0.5/ha.
If an active kestrel nest is located on site and 10-
49 ha of suitable foraging habitat is within 0.5 km of
the nest site, then either on-site habitat protection or
off-site compensation is recommended. An on-site
habitat protection area should include a 150 m radius
buffer zone around the nest site and all suitable forag-
ing habitat within 0.5 km of the nest site, up to 49 ha.
Nest boxes should be placed in the habitat protection
area at a density of 1/10 ha, and perch sites should be
maintained at a density of 0.5/ha. Off-site compensa-
tion should include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to the total acreage that would have been re-
quired for the nest site buffer zone and all available
suitable foraging habitat within 0.5 km of the nest site,
up to 49 ha. The acquired land must include habitat
suitable for kestrel use and must be a part of an existing
mitigation park or contiguous with other publicly
owned land.

Kestrels nesting on site and foraging off site

If the site contains an active kestrel nest and less
than 10 ha of suitable foraging habitat within 0.5 km
of the active nest site, then either on-site habitat
protection of the nest site or off-site compensation is
recommended. If on-site protection is pursued, then
the habitat protection area should provide a 150 m
radius buffer zone around each nest site, and two nest
boxes should be placed within the nest site buffer zone.
If off-site mitigation is pursued, then compensation
should include the purchase of land in an amount
equal to that required for the nest site buffer zone.

Kestrels nesting off site and foraging on site

If the site contains foraging habitat for kestrel(s)





nesting off site, either of two methods may be used to
determine the size of the habitat protection area. The
on-site kestrel habitat protection area should consist of
either (1) the amount of suitable kestrel foraging
habitat within 0.5 km of kestrel sightings determined
from initial surveys or (2) the amount of suitable
kestrel foraging habitat located within the on-site
kestrel use area as defined by detailed surveys along a
grid of transects (described in Section 2: DETERMI-
NATION OF KESTREL HABITAT USE ON SITES
THAT LACK NESTS).
If there is at least 50 ha of suitable kestrel habitat
located on site wi thin 0.5 km of initial kestrel sightings
or within the on-site kestrel use area, then on-site
habitat protection is recommended. The on-site habi-
tat protection area should contain 50 ha of suitable
foraging habitat and should include as many kestrel
sighting locations as possible. Five nest boxes should
be provided within the habitat protection area, and
perch sites should be maintained at a density of 0.5/ha.
Off-site compensation should only be considered in
unusual circumstances or when the habitat protection
area would consume more than 25% of all developable
uplands on site. If the habitat protection area would
consume more than 25% of all developable uplands on
site, then off-site mitigation should include the pur-
chase of land in an amount equal to 25% of all
developable uplands on site. Otherwise, off-site com-
pensation should include the purchase of land in an
amount equal to the acreage required for the habitat
protection area. The acquired land must contain
suitable kestrel habitat and must either be part of an
existing mitigation park or be contiguous with land
already in public ownership.
If the amount of on-site suitable kestrel habitat
located within 0.5 km of initial sightings or the amount
of suitable kestrel habitat within the on-site kestrel use
area is greater than 15 ha but less than 50 ha, then
either on-site habitat protection or off-site compensa-
tion is recommended. If on-site protection is pursued,
then the habitat protection area should include all
available suitable foraging habitat, up to 49 ha, either
within 0.5 km of initial kestrel sightings or within the
on-site kestrel use area. The habitat protection area
should include as many of the kestrel sighting loca-
tions as possible. Nest boxes should be provided at a
density of 1/10 ha with a minimum of two nest boxes
within the protection area. Perch sites should be
maintained at a density of 0.5/ha. If off-site mitigation
is pursued, then compensation should include the


purchase of land in an amount equal to the acreage
required for the habitat protection area. The acquired
land must include suitable kestrel habitat and must
either be part of an existing mitigation park or be
contiguous with other parcels of publicly owned land.
If the amount of on-site suitable kestrel habitat
within 0.5 km of initial sightings or the amount of
suitable kestrel habitat within the on-site kestrel use
area is less than 15 ha (37 acres), then protection of
habitat for kestrels is generally not recommended.
I however, these areas should be considered for protec-
tion if open, natural areas or green spaces are required
within the development site.

PROTECTION AREA SIZE AND
CONFIGURATION

Active nest sites should be protected by a 150 m
radius buffer zone encircling the nest site. If the nest
site is located within an area of suitable foraging
habitat, the 150 m buffer zone area should be included
within the habitat protection area. The nest site does
not necessarily need to be in the center of the protec-
tion area, but the 150 m buffer zone should be main-
tained. If the nest site buffer zone is not contiguous
with suitable foraging habitat, a protection area of
suitable foraging habitat could be established sepa-
rately from the nest site buffer zone, but not farther
than 0.5 km from the nest site. If the nest site occurs
off site, then the habitat protection area should be
located based on on-site kestrel habitat use (section 2:
DETERMINATION OF KESTREL HABITAT USE
ON SITES THAT LACK NEST SITES).
Whenever possible, the area designated as the
habitat protection area should be a single, contiguous
block of land, generally in the shape of a circle, square,
or rectangle, unless other designs maximize the area
containing high quality habitat. If suitable kestrel
foraging habitat occurs in a disjunct pattern, then the
individual areas may be protected separately. How-
ever, if the habitat protection area is to be composed of
several disjunct areas, then the total acreage for the
habitat protection area should include all available
suitable foraging habitat within 0.5 km of the nest site,
or within the kestrel use areas. Furthermore, develop-
ment in the areas between the kestrel protection zones
should not form a physical barrier which may inhibit
kestrels from traveling from one protected area of
foraging habitat to another. Situations in which
disjunct areas of foraging habitat are to be used to meet





the requirements of the habitat protection area should
be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Either Type I or Type 11 habitat is suitable for the
habitat protection area. However, if both Type I and
Type II habitat occur within 0.5 km of the active nest
site, then Type II habitat is preferred. If available,
Type II habitat should comprise at least 20% of the
habitat protection area. Proximate boundaries of the
protection area should encompass as many of the
kestrel observation locations as possible, except under
special circumstances (e.g., overlap with a gopher
tortoise colony).
Dead or dying trees > 24 cm dbh should be retained
within the habitat protection area at a density of at
least I tree/8 ha. These trees will provide future nest
sites as well as perch sites. If this density cannot be
attained or maintained, strategically situated live trees
should be retained (i.e., those that are isolated and
surrounded by foraging habitat). Perch sites at a
density of 0.5/ha should be maintained or created.
If there are more than 50 ha of suitable foraging
habitat in close proximity to an active nest site, the
habitat protection area should be selected based on:
(1) the highest quality habitat, (2) habitat known to
contain other listed species (e.g., gopher tortoise), (3)
areas as near as possible to protected natural habitat
areas, (4) areas as near as possible to off-site undevel-
oped lands that are expected to remain undeveloped.

OTHER MANAGEMENT
CONSIDERATIONS

Overlap of kestrel habitat and gopher tortoise habitat

Some proposed development sites will contain
both kestrels and gopher tortoises, and in such in-
stances the habitat protection needs of both of these
species may be incorporated into a single habitat
protection area. There are several options available,
depending on the location and type of habitat found in
each species' use area. The Ecology and Habitat Protec-
tion Needs of Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Populations Found on Lands SlatedforLarge-Scale Devel-
opment in Florida (Cox et al. 1987) should be consulted
for information on gopher tortoise habitat require-
ments and preservation recommendations. If kestrels
and gopher tortoises have overlapping habitat use
areas and the habitat is suitable for both species, then
the gopher tortoise colony may be included within the
kestrel habitat protection area. If a gopher tortoise


colony occurs on habitat that appears to be suitable
kestrel foraging habitat and is located in close proxim-
ity to the active kestrel nest site but kestrels are not
observed within this area, then the kestrel habitat
protection area should be situated so as to include the
gopher tortoise colony. A habitat protection area
designed to protect both kestrels and gopher tortoises
should (1) provide 50 ha (125 acres) ofsuitable kestrel
foraging habitat, (2) provide 150 m radius buffer zones
around the kestrel nest sites, (3) provide adequate
perch sites for kestrels, and (4) include adequate habi-
tat (acreage and type) to maintain gopher tortoises
based on the recommendations of Cox et al (1987). If
a gopher tortoise protection area occurs on habitat
unsuitable for kestrel foraging habitat, and manage-
ment to alter it for use by kestrels would be detrimental
to gopher tortoise management, then both species
need separate habitat protection areas. Similarly, if a
kestrel protection area occurs on habitat unsuitable for
a gopher tortoise habitat protection area and manage-
ment to render it suitable for gopher tortoise use would
be detrimental to use by kestrels, then both species
need separate habitat protection areas.

Removal/Relocation of a kestrel nest

If a site contains an active kestrel nest, and project
plans call for clearing of land on which the nest site is
located, and off-site compensation is pursued to miti-
gate impacts on kestrels, then appropriate procedures
must be followed in order to remove the nest site.
Permits must first be obtained from the Florida Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commission pursuant to Rule
39-27.002(2), Florida Administrative Code, and from
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Typically such
permits do not allow for destruction or relocation of
nests during the breeding season. In addition, if a
proposed development site contains a kestrel nest and
on-site habitat protection is pursued, but the nest is
located in a structure which is scheduled for removal
(e.g., abandoned building), then a permit must be
obtained from the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission. Such permits typically require that al-
ternative nest sites he installed in the vicinity of the
original active nest site prior to removal. If an active
kestrel nest is located in a man-made structure and the
structure is not scheduled to be removed, then the nest
site should nor be disturbed and nest boxes should be
placed around the structure to provide alternative nest
sites if the structure is in poor condition or is slated for






removal at a later date.
When the on-site habitat protection consists only
of a 150 m radius buffer zone around an active kestrel
nest site (i.e., the proposed development site contains
an active nest but less than 10 ha of suitable foraging
habitat on site), and it can later be documented that
the kestrels have not nested in the habitat protection
area for two consecutive breeding seasons, then the
habitat protection area may be developed and the nest
site may be removed.

INTEGRATING PROTECTION AREAS
INTO THE DEVELOPMENT
COMMUNITY

Kestrels are frequent residents of suburban areas
and are tolerant of human activities. Some developed
areas can even enhance or create suitable kestrel
foraging habitat. If such areas are maintained properly
and nest sites are available or provided, these areas may
be included as part of the habitat protection area.
Some possible developed areas that may be included as
part of a kestrel habitat protection area are: (1) small
airports, (2) horse stables, (3) golf courses, (4) parks,
and (5) power line rights-of-way. Developed lands
that are proposed for inclusion in a kestrel habitat
protection area must meet all the criteria for suitable
kestrel habitat (i.e., suitable foraging habitat; active,
potential, and alternative nest sites; and 0.5 perch sites
per hectare), and they must be within or contiguous to
the habitat protection area. High use areas (e.g.,
airport terminal, riding arena, golf clubhouse, play-
ground) should be located as far as possible from nest
sites and will not count towards the goal of providing
a habitat protection area of 50 ha. If the kestrel habitat
overlaps with existing developed areas (e.g., power
line rights-of-way), and this area can be managed and
maintained as kestrel foraging habitat, then it may be
included in the habitat protection area and will con-
tribute toward the goal of providing a habitat protec-
tion area of 50 ha. If management of the developed
area to be incorporated as part of the kestrel habitat
protection area includes practices (e.g., pesticide use)
that would directly or indirectly cause sickness, re-
duced reproductive capability, death, or reduced
amounts of available prey, then these areas should
NOT be included as part of the habitat protection
area. Consultation with a habitat specialist is recom-
mended if chemical treatment is planned for any area
being considered for inclusion as a portion of the


kestrel habitat protection area.
Other developed land may contain suitable kestrel
foraging habitat, but should not be included as part of
the protection area and will not count toward the
required protection area. Areas of possible suitable
foraging habitat that should NOT be incorporated
into a habitat protection area include: (1) residential
lawns, (2) isolated narrow grassy strips along roads, and
(3) areas adjacent to high traffic roads. Low traffic
roads may transect a protection area, but they should
not count toward the required acreage of suitable
foraging habitat.

MANAGING PROTECTION AREAS

Foraging areas

A minimum of 60% of the ground cover within
habitat protection areas should be maintained at a
height of < 25 cm by periodic mowing or burning. If
mowing is used, rotational mowing of strips creates an
interspersion of dense vegetation and open areas which
may more closely approach an optimal combination of
prey numbers and availability. Burning on a 2-3 year
rotation should maintain suitable foraging substrate;
however, needed frequency of burning will depend on
the type and density of vegetation on the site. Devel-
oped areas included as part of kestrel habitat protec-
tion areas should be maintained similarly.

Nest sites

Disturbance within the nest site buffer zone should
be prohibited during the courtship, breeding, and nest-
ing period (i.e., January August). One nest box (Figure
13) per 10 ha should be erected within habitat protec-
tion areas. Maintenance of the nest boxes should in-
clude two routine maintenance checks per year, replace-
ment of missing or damaged nest boxes, and removal of
non-target species. One of the maintenance checks
should be prior to the breeding season (i.e., December).
The nest boxes should be erected as near optimum
conditions as possible and be in place by December.
Several factors to consider in nest box placement in-
clude:

(1) Place the nest box approximately 7 meters high.

(2) Place the nest box on poles, snags, or live trees (or
on utility poles if proper authorization has been






received), should be regularly distributed throughout the protec-
tion area to increase the amount of available foraging
(3) Place nest box in close proximity to a roost tree. area. Power lines and poles provide excellent perch
sites for kestrels and qualify as suitable perch sites for
(4) The nest box opening should face a southerly to the protection area. Each 112 m length of power line
easterly direction, will count as 1 perch site.

(5) The entrance of the nest box should be unobstructed
with a clear flight path.

(6) The nest box should be placed in an open area at
a distance greater than 50 m from a forest edge.

(7) If a live tree must be used as the support structure,
then there should be 4.5-6.0 m between the nest
box and the lowest branch on the tree.

Roost sites in close proximity to the nest site
provide both cover from predators and initial perch
sites for fledglings. If a tree (live or dead) is used as a
nest box support structure, the health status of the tree
also should be monitored during the nest box mainte-
nance checks. If the tree becomes unsuitable (e.g.,
decayed) for a nest box structure, the nest box should
be relocated to a nearby suitable structure (tree or
pole). The nest box should only be relocated during
the non-reproductive season (September-December).
Removal or relocation of a nest box that has been used
by kestrels requires a permit from Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission and United States Fish
and Wildlife Service.

Perch sites

The availability and density of perch sites
directly influences the quality of foraging habitat.
With the majority of their hunting accomplished by
pouncing on prey from perch sites, the kestrel's ability
to successfully capture prey can be severely reduced
without adequate perch sites. Kestrels make most of
their prey capture pounces within a 56 m radius of a
perch site (Smallwood 1987). The overall density of
perch sites (natural or man-made) for the protection
area should be 0.5 perch sites/ha. If adequate perch
sites do not exist on the protection area, perch sites
should be erected and maintained. If man-made perch
sites area required, then poles approximately 7-10 m
high should be used for additional perch sites. The
poles should be placed throughout the protection area
wherever natural perch sites are lacking. Perch sites






VENTILATION
HOLES 3/8
I 10" I ,


10'--


PERCH


NAILS


Figure 13. Kestrel nest box design. Half of the entrance cut-out is used for an inside perch, attached with a screw. Two nails at the top of one
side panel act as hinges to swing the side open for cleaning. A single nail is used at the bottom to secure the side shut. Use I inch thick wood for
construction.


DRAIN HOLES
1/4"


I- 7.75'






SECTION 4.
ALTERNATIVE PROTECTION AND MITIGATION
TECHNIQUES


Off-site compensation is recommended ifa devel-
opmentsite is smaller than the required acreage for the
habitat protection area. If the kestrel habitat protec-
tion area would consume more than 25% of all devel-
opable uplands on a site, then either on-site protection
or off-site compensation may be considered. Off-site
mitigation should include the purchase of land in an
amount equal to 25% of all developable uplands on
site. If the habitat protection area would consume
more than 25% of all developable uplands on a site but
the types of land use proposed for the development arc
suitable for inclusion in a kestrel habitat protection
area (see Section 3), then on-site protection is recom-
mended. In cases where active kestrel nest(s) are
present on sites that qualify for off-site mitigation,
appropriate procedures to minimize direct harm or
stress to the kestrel must be followed.


OFF-SITE MITIGATION

Off-site mitigation may consist of a purchase of
land consisting of suitable kestrel habitat within a
mitigation park. The amount of land purchased within
the mitigation park should be equal in area to that
required for a habitat protection area for each breeding
pair of kestrels located on site. The land purchased
should contain suitable foraging habitat, adequate
perch sites, and alternative natural nest sites or nest
boxes. A second off-site option requires the purchase
of land adjacent to and contiguous with public lands
where management is compatible with kestrels. The
purchased land should be donated to the agency that
holds title to the public lands. The area purchased
should consist of an amount of suitable foraging habi-
tat equal to what would have been required for the
habitat protection area. The applicant must provide a
one-time management action to optimize forage value
and erect kestrel nest boxes at a density of 1/10 ha in
the off-site mitigation area.






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