Perry industrial tech, biology students flock to kestrel boxes

Dallas County Conservation Department naturalist Mike Havlik mounts a kestrel box along County Road P58 south pf Perry. Perry students have built 40 new kestrel boxes and repaired others.

Joining forces to protect a declining species, the Perry Middle School and Perry High School have partnered with the Dallas County Conservation Department on a kestrel box project.

Mike Havlik, naturalist with Dallas County Conservation, has been working with the PHS Advance Placement biology class and the Perry Middle School shop class on the plans for the kestrel condos.

“The middle school shop class made 50 boxes, of which we received 20,” Havlick said. “Over spring break, we were able to replace nine missing or dilapidated boxes and were able to rehab an additional 10 that were missing tops or bottoms.”

As a mark of Perry pride, a large Perry “P” in Bluejay blue was painted on the first north-facing box seen by travelers moving south on P58.

American kestrel
American kestrel

Havlik said 12 American kestrels have been seen at the boxes since their mounting.

“We plan on banding the adult birds sometime in May, hopefully with some of the students assisting,” Havlik said. “I think it’s neat to have students directly involved in something that is going to benefit their community and a bird that is struggling nationally.”

About 20 of the boxes have yet to be mounted.

Calvin Smith, long-term substitute shop teacher at the Perry Middle School, said the project was a success.

“We used it as a manufacturing project for our middle school students in our industrial tech class,” Smith said. “They had to go through and figure out the design for the box and then how to mass produce them in the shop so that they could make repeated ones of them as quickly as possible.”

Students in PHS biology teacher Jeff Fox’s Advanced Placement class are using the project “as part of our environmental science unit on the impact of human activities on biodiversity,” Fox said.¬†“On May 10 we will be helping Dallas County band and catalogue the kestrel chicks.”

The American kestrel, which is the most abundant species of falcon in North America although its breeding population is experiencing long-term and gradual but sustained declines due to habitat loss.


  1. I used to commute to Perry from Grand Junction back in the late 1990s, and I used to see a lot of kestrels between Rippey and the Boone County line. Speaking of P58, my friends and I adopted the road from the Perry city limits to just south of the river a few years back. I forget the brand name, but evidently some lady had the habit of tossing her empty cigarette packs out starting from just outside of town to a gravel road just shy of the river. It was the slim kind of smokes marketed to women, and we’d regularly average about 50 empty packs on the west side of the road each time we cleaned it.


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