The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) has been steadily declining throughout most of its eastern North American range, and the cause of this decline is still relatively unknown. As a cavity nesting species, the American Kestrel often competes with other cavity nesters such as the invasive and abundant European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) over nest boxes. The relationship between European Starling presence at nesting sites and American Kestrel occupancy and nesting success is understudied. We analyzed data from nest boxes monitored in eastern Pennsylvania, USA, from 1992 to 2021 to identify changes in occupancy of American Kestrels and competitors, and to examine the relationship between competition at nest boxes and American Kestrel nesting parameters. We found that American Kestrel occupancy decreased while European Starling occupancy increased over the study period. All other species occupying nest boxes (small mammals, passerines, owls, and snakes) showed no significant occupancy trends. On average 21% of nest boxes remained unoccupied annually, and 7% of occupied nest boxes were used by both American Kestrels and competitors in the same breeding season. The presence of these competitors had negative associations with American Kestrel occupancy, clutch size, number of fledglings produced, and overall nesting success. Specifically, the rate of nesting success decreased by 26% when European Starlings used the same nest box within the same breeding season. In recent years, nesting productivity of American Kestrels has decreased, with the average number of nestlings, fledglings, and nesting success rate all declining, while the average clutch size remained constant. Our results suggest that American Kestrel nesting parameters in eastern Pennsylvania are negatively associated with competition for nest boxes during the breeding season. The opposing trends in occupancy for the European Starling and the American Kestrel in this study area coupled with the declining productivity of American Kestrel nests raise concerns over the future of this raptor species in eastern Pennsylvania.

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