The Lesser Kestrel
» The Lesser Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni, Fleischer, 1818) is a small falcon species that is a useful ally of man in combating pests in agricultural landscapes. Once considered among the most abundant birds of prey in Europe, today, due to agriculture intensification, farmland abandonment, loss of nesting sites and intensive pesticide application it has an uncertain future.

Lesser Kestrel is strongly attached to agro-environmental landscapes, showing high preferences towards extensively managed wheat crops and extensively grazed or otherwise maintained pastures. The species is an essentially insectivorous, opportunist feeder, capable of exploiting a wide range of terrestrial and aerial prey.

Lesser Kestrels are often nesting in urban areas, as they provide nesting sites and reduced nest predation and are usually surrounded by agricultural fields or open uncultivated grasslands, securing food sources. The species is therefore highly dependent on human activity not only for foraging areas but also in terms of available nesting sites.
Conservation problems and threats.

In the past, the Lesser Kestrel was widely spread in Bulgaria, nesting “everywhere” in the mid-19th century. At present, there are no Lesser Kestrel breeding pairs confirmed in Bulgaria.

The decrease of the food base of Lesser Kestrel due to intensive pesticide and poison use, together with overgrowth and abandonment of pastures and arable land leading to destruction of foraging habitats are considered among the critical reasons for the extinction of the species in Bulgaria.

The most serious problem today is the critically low number of populations and isolation that could not let the small falcons recover naturally. Moreover, the species is highly dependent on entirely anthropogenic-influenced habitats for both foraging and nesting.

Another severe threat is the collision with power-lines.

Photos of Lesser Kestrel