Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)


French: Faucon crécerellette German: Rötelfalke Spanish: Cernícalo primilla

Falco Naumanni


, 1818,

southern Germany and Switzerland; error = Sicily


Has hybridized with F. tinnunculus#R. Monotypic. Validity of former race pekinensis, for the birds of the easternmost part of the distribution area, has recently been advocated#R.


Iberia, S France and N Africa E through SE Europe, Asia Minor, Levant and Iran to S Siberia, Mongolia and N China (E to Inner Mongolia and W Shandong). Winters in Africa S of Sahara; also in Mediterranean#R region and locally in parts of S Asia.

Descriptive notes

28–32 cm; male 90–172 g, female 138–208 g; wingspan 58–73 cm. Unspotted above; greater upperwing-coverts blue-grey; underparts less spotted than in... read more


Mainly silent, except around breeding sites, when gives high-pitched, rasping “chay chay... read more


Open areas in hot, dry climates; little or low vegetation, e.g. steppe, pastures, semi desert,... read more

Food and feeding

Fair variety of aerial and terrestrial insects, often constituting over 90% of prey. Mainly Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, crickets)... read more


Laying mainly in May; in NW Africa and S Spain from mid Apr. Colonial, normally in groups of no more than 25 pairs, occasionally as few as... read more


Mainly trans-Saharan migrant, although some birds winter in NW Africa and in various regions of S... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Drastic and apparently widespread decline in second half of 20th century which led the species to be treated as Vulnerable... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 31 March 2020).