America’s smallest raptor, the American kestrel, can boost economies in Michigan and other fruit-growing states, new research shows. It’s the first study to measure regional job creation aided by the activity of native predators.
American kestrels range from Alaska to South America. They dine on bugs, small mammals and fruit-eating birds. More kestrels mean fewer pests, and the tiny hawks’ mere presence can produce measurable improvements, said Catherine Lindell, a Michigan State University (MSU) integrative biologist and study co-author. Growers can attract more of these beneficial birds by building nesting boxes.
A paper reporting the results was published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
“This research demonstrates that farmers can use science to design agricultural fields that benefit people and wildlife,” said Betsy Von Holle, a program director for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which funded the research. MORE
Header Image: A male kestrel in a northern Michigan cherry orchard. Males have gray wings; females, rusty wings. Credit: Catherine Lindell.