The Lesser Kestrel is a type of small falcon, very close to the Common Kestrel, but it is smaller. Length – 32 cm. The wings of his wings reach 58-73 cm. Weight-140-210 g. Longevity: 6 years.
The Lesser Kestrel’s beak is short and curved at the base. The long pointed wings and the long tail end with a wide black band. Male and female birds are quite different. The male has a brown back with rust-gray wings without marks on them. The hood covering the head, neck, back and tail is blue-gray. The belly is creamy pink, with small brown strips. The irises are bright yellow, while the legs are yellow-orange. Females have a brown back and head contrasting with the pale belly. Young are similar to females and have bright nails.
Distribution and Habitat
Turkestan-Mediterranean migratory species. It breeds locally in southern Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East, Southern Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia east to China, and winters south of the Sahara. The Lesser Kestrel likes warm, sun-lit open areas, overgrown with grass, shrubs, and not many trees, rocks and riparian old trees.
In Bulgaria – nesting-passing and passing species. It has migrated to an unknown number over the whole country after 2000 – mostly on the Black Sea coast. The company Green Balkans has been working for more than five years on a project for the return of the species to Bulgaria. During the work, a new colony of Lesser Kestrel was found in the Lukoil base in Burgas, which maintains its number in the size of 4 to 6 pairs.
Lesser Kestrel feeds mostly on insect-grasshoppers, but also catches small lizards and snakes. When the hunt, sometimes stands still in the air, fluttering with wings, that allow it to monitor and look the area enough time to show hidden for a moment or remaining stationary for another reason victims. Normally, it does not leave much of its colony.
Lesser Kestrels often nest in urbanized areas as they provide nesting sites, and the level of threatening nesting predation in the nest is low and are usually surrounded by farmland or uncultivated pastures that provide nutrition. That is why the species depends to a large extent on human activity, not only in terms of eating places but also because of the existence of nesting places. It breeds colonies that remain common for many years. It prefers to nest in holes, cracks and rocks, on different types of terrain, rocky, woodland or often in cities and villages where there are suitable buildings. Hatches most often in May-June. It lays 4-5 eggs with a length of about 35 mm, and the brood itself lasts about 28 days. The young leave the nest after 26-28 days.
It is a very rare species on the territory of Bulgaria and is protected under the BDA.