American Kestrel and Screech Owl
New Jersey’s resident falcon, the American Kestrel, and our smallest breeding owl, the Screech Owl, occur statewide. Kestrels are resident throughout the year although some migrate. Screech Owls are basically non-migratory and remain in the same areas all their lives. The habitat in which both birds live is similar and the best boxes made for them are identical.
Kestrels are birds of open terrain, seldom entering woods. They hunt fields, shorelines, meadows, roadsides and other open areas. They are regularly seen perched atop telephone poles and utility wires or hovering in mid-air, searching the ground below for prey. Boxes should be placed in open spaces. Good locations are: trees along the edge of a woodlot, a lone tree in a field, on a barn or other farm building, or mounted on a pole. Constructing your own pole offers the advantage of being able to place the nest box anywhere. Open fields and meadows afford the hawks proper habitat to hunt mice, moles and their summer favorites–grasshoppers.
Boxes should be placed 12 to 20 feet above the ground. When using a pole or post for erection, a metal sleeve 30 inches wide should be wrapped around it and secured, to keep mammal predators from climbing to the box.
Screech Owls live in open woodland terrain. They are found not only in open country, but in lightly wooded areas, city and rural parks, small woodlots, and a particular favorite–apple orchards.