Last week, before the snow started to melt, PKM Electric Cooperative lineworkers spent a morning installing three “retired” utility poles in rural Kittson County. The poles will hold nest boxes designed specifically to attract North America’s smallest and flashiest falcons – the American Kestrel.
American Kestrels, also known as sparrow hawks, are about the size of a Blue Jay. Kestrels used to be a common sight - perched on power lines and poles along roads adjacent to farm fields and grasslands. Scientists believe the lack of suitable nesting cavities may be a limiting factor for these birds in Minnesota.
Last year, PKM installed 10 poles at the Audubon Center near Warren. Five nestlings fledge from one of those boxes, and students who participated in the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo summer camp got to help Tim Driscoll from the Raptor Center band them.
“We are grateful for PKM’s help again this spring,” said Heidi Hughes, director of Agassiz Audubon’s Community Nest Watch Project.
The Kittson County Community Nest Watch project started in December when Wes Johnson, the shop teacher at Kittson Central HS contacted Agassiz Audubon with an offer to build bird nest boxes. Hughes accepted the offer and recruited volunteers in Kittson County to install and monitor the boxes. Donations from the Kennedy Crew and Hallock Eagles covered the cost of the wood. Wes Johnson’s 9th grade shop class built more than a dozen boxes.
Then PKM donated the poles and offered to install them in their service area. Otter Tail Power will be installing eight additional poles and boxes soon.
Agassiz Audubon is looking for volunteers to help watch the nest boxes in the following locations in northwestern Minnesota:
• Kennedy: the ball field, the Kennedy water tower
• Hallock: 12th Street South, the fairgrounds, Kittson Central HS
• Hampden Township: Orleans Grain Elevator (312th Street)
• Clow Township: Great Lakes Gas Transmission station, North Kittson Rural Water Tower, Viking Gas Transmission Humboldt Compressor Station
• Lancaster: Lancaster Public School Practice Field
• Norway Township: Carlson Prairie Seeds
• Brislet Township: Audubon Center and Agassiz Valley Project (impoundment)
• Viking Township: Enbridge Energy
• Angus: Viking Gas Transmission
• Lincoln Township: 420th Street
Agassiz Audubon Society is recruiting nest box sponsors, and volunteers. If you want to participate – or learn more about these birds – Agassiz Audubon will be presenting programs in April and May at libraries in Hallock, Greenbush, Roseau, Warroad, Warren, Thief River Falls, Red Lake Falls and East Grand Forks.
Page 2 of 2 - For more, call 218.745.5663, or email AgassizAudubon@gmail.com, or find Agassiz Audubon on Facebook at facebook.com/AgassizAudubon.