American Kestrel Research

American kestrels (Falco sparverius) are small raptors which utilize snags and nest boxes for nesting.  It also nests with some regularity in abandoned RCW cavities in the North Carolina Sandhills.  Steve Anchor, formerly an SEI biologist from 2001 to 2016, led a baseline study of breeding American kestrels on western Fort Bragg between 2003 and 2005.   Data were collected on demography and abundance of nesting kestrels on Fort Bragg. Blood samples were obtained from 21 kestrels on western Fort Bragg and from 8 kestrels within Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.  Of particular interest was determination of any genetic predisposition to the generally migratory subspecies of American kestrel (Falco sparverius sparverius) or the non-migratory putative southeastern kestrel (F. s. paulus).

DNA was extracted by Hope Draheim and Susan Haig from the SEI samples collected in Hoke County, North Carolina and Okaloosa County, Florida and these analyses were incorporated into a comprehensive North American kestrel genetics investigation.

See link below to paper published in the Journal of Heredity (Miller, M.P. et al. 2012) that examined genetic diversity with respect to migration between putative subspecies F.s sparverius and F.s. paulus.  Our North Carolina kestrels were surprisingly more genetically aligned with the western sampling locations than with the southeastern locations.

2012 Journal of Heredity article