Robert E. Fuller, a wildlife artist, has devoted his life to researching how animals, particularly birds, live in their natural settings. Visitors to his exhibition in the Yorkshire Wolds may participate in one of his research methods: watching birds go about their everyday lives through over 100 live-feed surveillance cameras targeted on various species’ nest locations.
The common kestrel, a tiny falcon-like bird of prey, is one of the species on which Fuller maintains an eye with cameras. Though the species is not thought to be in decline, the kestrel population in the United Kingdom has decreased by half since 1970, probably owing to a loss of nesting grounds such as ancient trees with cavities precisely the ideal size for a comfortable nest. So when Fuller spotted a young male kestrel he named Apollo struggling to find a nesting site, he decided to intervene. Fuller erected a nest box for Apollo after seeing him be beaten out for prime nesting places by other birds multiple times.
Apollo’s plea for a mate to share his new nest was answered within days by Athena, an older female kestrel with a “no-nonsense approach to life,” according to Fuller.
The incredible footage, shot with a camera hidden in the nest box, chronicles a kestrel courtship, squabbles (at one point, Apollo brings insufficient food, and Athena squawks at him from the nest entrance, blocking his escape until she’s finished), and teamwork as they raise a family of five feisty kestrel chicks. Along the way, Athena has to choose between keeping the chicks warm and assisting Apollo seek for food, and she uses her talons to beat off would-be attackers. The camera in the nest box gives an up-close look of everything, and Fuller’s friendly, informative commentary adds to the video’s allure.
Check out some of Fuller’s films below, and follow him on social media for more stunning live footage of UK wildlife.
Wildlife artist Robert E. Fuller was able to record wonderful film of a pair of kestrels wooing and rearing a family by placing a camera inside the nest box he created for them.