Applebrook Farm

chicks - June 7, 2016

Applebrook Farm & Cider Mill, located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, has been chosen as a location for nesting boxes to help rebuild local populations of the American Kestrel. Also called "sparrow hawks," kestrels are the smallest falcons in North America. Their population has been in steep decline in Connecticut over the last 30 years. They are very colorful, intense predators who feed primarily on small rodents and insects.

When approached by Tom Sayers, who founded the Northeast Connecticut Kestrel Project in 2009, Tom and Sharon Muska, owners of the orchard, quickly agreed to participate. "Helping the kestrels will also help our farm," they said.

Applebrook Farm & Cider Mill fits the siting criteria for the kestrel project by having over 20 acres of open space and many opportunities for the birds to perch in the orchard's 1,450 apple trees. So far, three boxes have been erected at a height of 14 feet in various parts of the orchard.

Male kestrels return from their wintering grounds in the southern states to our area first, usually in late March, to scout for a nesting site. The females follow two to four weeks later. Egg-laying usually begins in mid to late April with the young hatching approximately 30 days after that.

American kestrels do not build nests but instead look for existing holes in old trees or buildings in which to lay their eggs. Researchers have learned that they will utilize appropriately sized nest boxes as a substitute for natural nest sites. There are 75 nesting boxes presently established as part of this project in the north central Connecticut area.

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