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Falcon Expedition in Northwestern Minnesota - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Falcon Expedition in Northwestern Minnesota

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   We' re taking you on a birding expedition in northwestern Minnesota. America's smallest falcon, the Kestrel Falcon is suffering from declining numbers in Minnesota.

  Volunteers have put up 25 nesting boxes across northwestern Minnesota, since there are fewer nesting spots for Kestrel  Falcons. The falcons prefer dead trees that are now days, quickly removed by land owners.

  Two weeks ago there were 5 chicks in this box. Today, bad news. There's only one left.

Heidi Hughes, Agassiz Audubon Society: "They could have been eaten by their nest mates. We could have had a raccoon climb up this pole. There are a number of things that can happen to these birds. You see them sitting on power lines and you'll see them hovering in fields. They're on of the few hawks that can actually stop in midair, hover and find their prey."

  The adults are only the size of a robin and researchers don't really know all that much about them yet, so they're trying to learn.

  The chicks are being banded in hopes of tracking their migratory routes.

Tim Driscoll, Urban Raptor Research Project: "We had one, one of the babies we banded last year at the Audubon Sanctuary was found west of Minneapolis this spring."

Blood samples are even being taken to find out if things like bird malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes,  is effecting their population. 

Heidi Hughes: "The eat rodents and insects and occasionally they'll catch a small bird. But they pretty much rely on rodents and insects."

  And now, they're relying on people for nesting sites and a better understanding of them in hopes of bringing back their population.

   If you'd like to get involved in the project, they're looking for more people to donate areas for nesting sites. You can find much more information on their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/agassizaudubon

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