The flying guardians of Heinfels Castle: Kestrels live on the web


The kestrels at Heinfels Castle have had their nesting place for many years in a niche in the wall of the kitchen tower built in the 14th century. Every year four to five young falcons hatch and start their first flight attempts. For the first time, the falcons can be observed live via a newly installed "falcon cam."

"We finally managed to drill a hole in the wall from behind and install a webcam in time for the start of the breeding season," says a satisfied Peter-Paul Kofler. He is the caretaker of Heinfels Castle and a trained falconer. There is not much going on in the opening in the wall where a beam used to be, but the pair of falcons can always be seen and heard around the castle. During the mating season a lot of activity takes place outside the future nesting site. Occasionally one of the two falcons, with or without prey, will look over and scratch something in the nest.

But when does life move in? "At the end of April or the beginning of May things get interesting. The female lays four to six eggs, which are incubated for about 30 days. The kestrels then hatch in early to mid-June," says Peter Paul Kofler. Raising the young falcons takes another four to five weeks. Then the nest in the castle is always noisy, especially when the young birds are fed alternately by mother and father. How many of the youngsters finally succeed is always exciting.

Peter-Paul Kofler with young kestrel "Laurentius" in August 2020, shortly before it was released back into the wild.

Peter-Paul Kofler: "Last summer a kestrel fell out of the nest. I tried to raise it, but to no avail". Three years ago, however, a small falcon was more fortunate in its first attempts to fly. Despite a "crash" on the chapel roof that resulted in a broken wing, Peter-Paul Kofler was able to nurse the young bird back to health after several weeks of care. "It was tiring, but it was worth it. It was a very emotional moment when I was able to release the kestrel back into the wild above the battlements of the castle".

Now everyone is waiting to see if, as in previous years, there will be offspring. "We really hope so," says Peter-Paul Kofler, glancing eagerly at the webcam. It can be found at at Earthcam (with images from the archive).

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From May 2018 to the end of October 2019, more than 2800 visitors gained insights into one of the most exciting construction sites in the region.

It was a special day for the "Queen of the Puster Valley": On the 12th of July the guardian angel bell was cast in the bell foundry Grassmayr in Innsbruck. This is a continuation of the old tradition of bells in the castle.

During the restoration work, a special red chalk drawing from the early 16th century was uncovered. But this is not the only discovery!

Heinfels Castle’s main redevelopment should be complete and open once again to the general public within five years. An ambitious goal if you were to take a peek inside the imposing castle, as the last centuries haven’t been kind to the halls and chambers, leaving them to dilapidate.

On 16 November 2015, the concept regarding the future use of Heinfels Castle was presented to the district councils of the Tyrolean Oberland. If everything goes according o plan, the main redevelopment can take place during summer 2016.

The Südtiroler Burgeninstitut (the South Tyrolean Castle Institute) invited Management of the Museumsverein and the Steering Group to visit a number of castles in and around South Tyrol on 14 July 2015.

On 2 June 2015, the members of the ‘New Uses’ and ‘Redevelopment and Maintenance’ groups were met by gorgeous weather as they set out to visit the border fortress of Altfinstermünz in Nauders at the foot of the Finstermünzpass.