Mt Cuba Center
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Mt. Cuba conserves and stewards more than 1,000 acres including meadows, forests, streams and riparian corridors.

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Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – July 6, 2021


Prepare to Leave the Nest

For the past three years, Mt. Cuba Center has partnered with the Brandywine Zoo to establish and monitor Kestrel nest boxes, leg band adults and chicks, and collect biological data on the birds that nest here.  The genetic information from our birds is sent to the American Kestrel Genoscape project, which contributes and supports nationwide research.  

Due to habitat loss, American kestrel populations have declined dramatically regionally.  The results from this project will help aid in the management decisions to support their populations in the future.  In 2021, there are two nesting pairs of Kestrels in Mt. Cuba’s nest boxes, with 5 chicks each. In June, we partnered with the Brandywine Zoo staff to band and collect biological information from these 10 chicks.  This is just one of the many ways we are supporting conservation, and measurably improve our habitats and the species they support.  

We sat down with Nathan Shampine, Mt. Cuba’s natural lands manager, to talk about kestrel conservation efforts and other birds at Mt. Cuba. Read on for the details and be sure to watch the video to see these conservation efforts in action.  

Mt. Cuba Center: How did Mt. Cuba Center get involved with Kestrel banding and conservation?  

Nathan Shampine: We manage grasslands at Mt. Cuba to support grassland birds. One of the species of special conservation concern is the American Kestrel. Since we manage optimum habitat for these birds, we were approached by the Brandywine Zoo about a partnership to install nest boxes and a monitoring program to assist with conserving these species.

Mt. Cuba Center: What makes Mt. Cuba Center an ideal habitat for Kestrels and other wildlife?   

Nathan Shampine: Mt. Cuba manages large intact areas of grassland habitat that are ideal for supporting the small mammals and insects that the kestrels require for food.

Mt. Cuba Center: How can visitors get involved with helping the kestrel population in Delaware? 

Nathan Shampine: You can help by volunteering as a nest box checker, establishing a nest box on your property, reporting Kestrel sightings, or donating to the conservation efforts. Click here for more information.

young kestrel bird being held

Mt. Cuba Center: What kind of nest boxes can be found at Mt. Cuba Center?  

Nathan Shampine: We maintain nest boxes for a variety of bird species including kestrels, wood ducks, bluebirds, tree swallows, chickadees, and house wrens.

Mt. Cuba Center: What can visitors look forward to seeing during their walks on Mt. Cuba’s trails?  

Nathan Shampine: You will see many of our nest boxes as well as these bird species utilizing our habitats to hunt, feed, and raise their young.

Mt. Cuba Center: What other wildlife conservation efforts are at work in natural lands? Tell us more about it.  

Nathan Shampine: Mt. Cuba’s natural lands and all our restoration efforts serve to support native flora and fauna, as well as their habitats and ecological interactions.  Learn more here.

Mt. Cuba Center: When is the best time to come visit Mt. Cuba Center’s trails to go birding?  

Nathan Shampine: Spring and fall are great times to see a variety of birds utilizing our habitats during migration to and from their breeding ranges. Summer is a great time to see our resident breeding birds.