A large captive colony of approximately 250
pedigreed American kestrels (Falco sparverius) is maintained at
the Avian Science and Conservation Centre. Kestrels have been used
extensively by researchers from all over the world in laboratory studies
involving aspects of toxicology, behaviour and physiology. They also proved
useful as a model species to develop management techniques, e.g artificial
insemination, forced renesting, for the endangered
Peregrine falcon (F.
peregrinus) raised at the centre during the 70s and 80s.
The breeding season usually begins in early April in temperate regions, peaks at approximately 13.5 hours of daylight and is strongly influenced by the length of day. Eggs take 28-30 days to hatch, the sex ratio at hatching is 1:1 and nestlings take between 25-30 days to fledge. In the wild, kestrels take insects, mice and occasionally small birds. The McGill colony is sustained on an ad libitum diet of frozen-thawed day-old cockerels, usually one to two per day. Although kestrels do not require water for drinking, they especially enjoy bathing.
© 2003 Avian Science and Conservation Centre
McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Rd.
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada H9X 3V9
Phone: (514) 398-7760 Fax: (514) 398-7990