Eagle Scout candidate shows love for kestrels
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525
Southeastern kestrels were the big winners in a partnership between
Boy Scout Troop 600 from Perry, Tri-County Electric Cooperative out
of Madison, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Ten new nest boxes now rise high above the sandhills and scrub
on the Tide Swamp Wildlife Management Area in Taylor County.
Construction and installation of the nest boxes is the Eagle
Scout project of Thomas Palaio, Troop 600 guide. Tri-County
Electric donated and installed the 10 poles on which the boxes were
The southeastern kestrel, a small falcon, is
the only kestrel found in the Americas and is the most common
falcon in North America. About the size of a large thrush, the bird
is also the smallest falcon in North America. It is commonly used
According to Randy Havens, a biologist at the FWC's Big Bend
Field Office in Perry, there is no documented evidence of nesting
of the southeastern sub-species of kestrels on the WMA.
"We often see migratory kestrels perched on power lines and
trees along the highways when they spend the winter here, but no
one has been able to document nesting activity," Havens said. "We
want to see if we have any kestrels that stay here all year."
Havens explained that the boxes were installed too late for this
year's nesting season.
"We will be monitoring the nest boxes next year, however, to see
if we have any activity. Some other species could always take
advantage of the boxes, but we're really hoping that the kestrels
start nesting here."
The installation of the nest boxes also included a strip of
aluminum flashing that will serve as a guard for the nest to
prevent snakes, raccoons and other predators from climbing the nest
"Some predators that go after the eggs or chicks may be able to
climb the power poles," Havens said. "But the flashing around the
poles is slippery and will provide a barrier that the predators
Palaio, 17, decided to do his Eagle Scout project after talking
"Mr. Havens said this was a good project and could provide
important data for the FWC next year to learn whether the kestrels
nest here," Palaio said. "I liked the idea, so I decided to take it
on as my project."
The FWC provided the plans, tools and materials for Palaio's
troop, which built the kestrel boxes. Palaio, his father Jack
Palaio, and James Clover, 15, current senior patrol leader for the
troop, joined Havens March 26 to install the boxes.
In addition to building the kestrel nest boxes, Palaio's troop
also modified five wood duck boxes, attaching them to poles to be
erected on various areas across the Big Bend WMA in the future.
Among the requirements to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Palaio
must plan, develop and give leadership to others in a community
service project that is a minimum of 100 hours.