Kestrel Takes Stage At Target Field

I'm not much of a baseball fan (being from Indiana, I'm pre-programmed to enjoy basketball, specifically Big 10 basketball).  However, the new Minnesota Twins stadium has been such a focus of the news, I know far more about it just from osmosis via radio, tv and social media updates. The big news early on was a red-tailed hawk pair that was reportedly nesting behind the new scoreboard at Target Field.  I thought it would be interesting to do a story on it and maybe get some photos but Target Field was not really interested in taking calls on the nest.  I called the Minnesota DNR to find out if they had any information or photos of the nest and was told that the nest had been removed by workers at Target Field.  Since the nest was first reported in March (which is when red-tail lay eggs in Minnesota) and it was removed after that, I wondered if there were eggs in the nest when it was removed, making the removal a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty.  It didn't sound like the issue was going to be pursued and if there was concern over the nest, better to remove it early while the red-tails have a chance to renest (like they would if a wind storm blew it down).  Also, it was good that the nest was removed early before there were chicks older, the adults more aggressive in defending their territory and we wouldn't have another mess like last year when a DNR officer shot some nesting broad-winged hawks in the south suburbs.

However, another raptor is filling the void at Target Field--Kirby the Kestrel:

Here is the small male kestrel captured on the jumbotron at Target Field and is entertaining fans with the falcon's awesome ability to grab insects in the air with its toes.  This is an American Kestrel and it's been fun to watch news stations like WCCO report on the small falcon but incorrectly use a photo of the Eurasion kestrel.  These birds are cavity nesters, usually using old woodpecker holes made by flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers or even pileated woodpeckers to for nesting.  They will also use large bird houses like wood duck boxes or you can purchase kestrel boxes from your local bird store.  I've seen them nesting in the Uptown area of Minneapolis in old homes with holes leading into an attic or duct work.  I'm not sure there are any cavities for the bird to nest in at Target Field, perhaps there are some old trees nearby for the male to lay claim to and he will attract a female...and hopefully the Target Field employees won't remove a kestrel nest and embrace it as part of the fun of an outdoor baseball game.

This particular bird seems to have quite the following.  According to this story by the Star Tribune there was a "Name the Kestrel Contest" and he has been dubbed Kirby the Kestrel, in honor of the Kirby Puckett.  He's such a hot item that someone started a Twitter Account for Kirby...too bad it's as TargetFieldHawk and not TargetFieldFalcon but I'm happy people are noticing birds even if they are mixing up their species a bit.

Here's a Youtube Video of Kirby in Action:


If you are catching a Twins game at Target Field, watch for Kirby at the right field foul pole.