Aldo the American Kestrel has grown to be quite comfortable at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. He is a regular visitor during the annual Chequamegon Bay Birding and Nature Festival in May, allowing birders a closer view than any wild bird would offer.
Though he is an easy-going bird, the busy visitor center can be challenging for him. Raptors feel safest if they can be above the commotion and have a solid wall behind them. It took some experimenting to find where Aldo felt most comfortable.
During last year’s festival, we were stationed at the bottom of the spiral staircase. Aldo blasted his alarm call almost constantly, afraid of seeing people peering down at him from one or two stories above.
This year we traded tables for a location with a ceiling to give Aldo a better sense of security. While he was more comfortable without potential threats from above, people could walk around the table on three sides. He still alarm-called frequently when he was surrounded by activity. Then I tried stationing his perch in front of the Museum’s tri-fold display to limit his field of view. We found his sweet spot where he could not see the crowds of menacing bird watchers above or behind him. Instead, he could focus on the audience in front of him. He even put on quite a show at times, preening and trilling, a welcome sign of comfort in the midst of chaos.