Lesser Kestrel

distribution of lesser kestrel
Names, conservation status and distribution
Falco naumanni, lesser kestrel, faucon crecrelette, birds of prey of kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve
Falco naumanni, lesser kestrel, faucon crecrelette, birds of prey of kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve

The lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon. This species breeds from the Mediterranean across Afghanistan and Central Asia, to China and Mongolia. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even to India and Iraq. It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European range. The genus name derives from Late Latin falxfalcis, a sickle, referencing the claws of the bird.

It is a small bird of prey, 27–33 cm in length with a 63–72 cm wingspan. It looks very much like the larger common kestrel but has proportionally shorter wings and tail. It shares a brown back and barred grey underparts with the larger species. The male has a grey head and tail like male common kestrels, but lacks the dark spotting on the back, the black malar stripe, and has grey patches in the wings.

The lesser kestrel is, as the name implies, a smaller and more delicate bird than the common kestrel, and it is entirely sympatric in its breeding range with it; they compete to a limited extent. Thus, the possibility that there is some form of adaptive advantage to the similar coloration deserves study. Considering that the lesser kestrel would in fact have an advantage if some would-be predators confused it with the larger species and consequently avoided it, it might be a case of Müllerian mimicry.

The lesser kestrel eats insects, but also small birds, reptiles and rodents (especially mice), which are often taken on the ground. It nests colonially on buildings, cliffs, or in tree holes, laying up to 3–6 eggs. No nest structure is built, which is typical for falcons.

It is widespread and plentiful on a global scale, and the IUCN have classed it as Least Concern. Apart from possible habitat destruction, it appears that indiscriminate use of pesticides has a strong effect on this species due to its insectivorous habits.

Source : Wikipedia