Species and Habitat |
Lesser kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
Falco naumanni
Common name: Lesser Kestrel
Scientific name: Falco naumanni
Taxonomy: Order Falconiformes, Family Falconidae
Phenology: Migratory breeding species
Threat status:
National   Vulnerable (Red Book of the Vertebrates of Portugal)
Global      Vulnerable (IUCN)
National     427 to 463 couples
Global        25.000 to 42.000 couples (European population)
Distribution: Being a migratory bird, its distribution varies during the year.It spends the fall and winter in Central and Southern Africa and the nesting period in the Northern Hemisphere during the spring and summer, occurring from the south of Europe to Eurasia.

Habitat: It occurs in steppe areas, pseudo-steppe (extensive farming areas) and semi-desert areas.It depends on relatively flat and wide areas where there is good food availability.
Characteristics: Small falcon of long and narrow pointed wings.It can reach a length of 30cm, 58 to 72 cm of wingspan and 200 grammes of weight.Being a bird of prey, it has short feet with sharp claws and a short and curved beak.They present sexual dimorphism.The males present a bluish-grey feathering on the head, tail and, large wing coverts, and a smooth brownish dorsum.  The chest is beige with black dotting and the tail has a terminal black band. The females have a more uniform feathering, brown on the dorsum, and have black dots all over the body.The hatchlings are born with a white first feathering which is posteriorly replaced. The juveniles are similar to the females.
Feeding:Based on insects (around 85% of their diet), giving preference to the larger and more abundant ones. Crickets, grasshoppers and Mole cricket are part of its diet.It can also hunt small mammals, birds and reptiles.  
Social behaviour: Gregarious habits, forming colonies during the nesting period.
Breeding:It nests in cavities of structures built by man (castles, churches, old houses, etc.), forming colonies that can go from 2 or 3 couples to 500 couples.The couples remain together during the breeding season and share the tasks inherent to nesting.In the colonies the males choose the nest site and feed the females during the incubation period.The females lay between 3 and 5 eggs.After they are born, the hatchlings depend on their progenitors, and are only fit to fly at around 6 weeks of age.  
Threats: The main threats for this species are the disappearance of feeding areas due to the conversion of farming habitat and consequent decreasing of insects abundance, and the lack of nesting sites, caused by the obstruction or destruction of cavities during remodelling or demolition of the buildings where the birds nest.