Kestrels in NY Cornices

Kestrel at a hole in a cornice

American kestrel (Falco sparverius)

American kestrels are mating and nesting again. In New York City, their favorite house seems to be holes in old iron cornices. East Village nature photographer Dennis Edge told me about a pair nesting on a building on the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Third Street. Here’s his fantastic picture of a male kestrel peeping in the hole.

Dennis says this one is the male; he has a blue/gray stripe on the wing.

Kestrels are known to live in any hole in the wall or tree. They’ll use second-hand woodpecker cavities. Or a manmade nestboxes. (Which you can buy, build and possibly post by the highway.)

How many rotted cast iron cornices could there be? Plenty. They’re a standard feature on old tenement buildings in the city.

American kestrels are the smallest and most widespread falcon. They are nicknamed sparrow hawk. In the pedantic classifications wars biologists have, some think they might not even be kestrels, but hobbies.

Dennis says starlings are trying to harass this kestrel pair out of their downtown home.

Biologist Robert “Birding Bob” DeCandido, who gives entertaining tours of birds in Central Park, at the Empire State Building and the New York Botanical Garden, is probably the city’s biggest kestrel expert. He has a regular kestrel newsletter and birders write in with their sightings. In his latest American Kestrel Nest Survey newsletter, Bob says: “Many people believe starlings are the #1 problem for kestrels seeking to nest in a cavity…starlings will work as a group of 3-5 to take over a nest cavity from woodpeckers, bluebirds and on occasion, even kestrels. We need more first- hand reports on the effect(s) of starlings upon kestrels in NYC and rural areas too.”

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1 comment to Kestrels nest in NYC Cornices

  • lori

    I think there are a pair of American Kestrels nesting on the rooftop of a building on 100th (close to lexington ave).
    Can anyone confirm this?