This year’s brood had five chicks. Phil Brown, Essex County Ornithological Club birding enthusiast and accomplished photographer, volunteers to build and maintain the Kestrel boxes. Phil approached the Town over a decade ago seeking approval to install a nesting box, as he has in several locations throughout Essex County, in an effort to provide a desirable breeding location for Kestrels in their natural habitat. It wasn’t until six years ago the first pair occupied and successfully bred in the box, and every year since another brood has been raised and fledged. Phil has been collaborating with Matt Kamm, PhD student at Tufts University Reed Research Group, and MassFish and Wildlife through the years collecting data on the chicks. The American Kestrel is the smallest of the falcons and has suffered a long term, sustained decline of its breeding population, particularly in New England and Essex County. It’s a thrill that Strawberry Hill, one of the first properties protected for conservation purposes by the Town through the Open Space Bond Program, is the site of a successful bird breeding story. Thanks to Phil Brown for his efforts in this success story, and to Jim Berry, one of the original long standing members of the Town’s Open Space Committee, who introduced Phil to the Town.