Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni
Lesser Kestrels are small to medium-sized, 11" to 13" (28cm to 33cm) birds, with females being larger than males, although small by Falcon standards. They have pointed tails, with a broad black band near the white tipped end. Yellow lores, eye-rings, legs and feet. Predator-shaped black bills, armed with a hooked top mandible. Off-white claws are diagnostic of this species. Similar to the Common Kestrel
, but smaller, with males having slightly different markings and females being paler.
Males have light brown backs. Pale blue head and rump. Front of neck is off-white. Underparts are buff or pale pink, with sparse dark spots.
Females and Juveniles have light brown backs, spotted and barred with black. Underparts and head are buff, with dark streaks. Pale moustacial stripes from eye down the cheek. Habits
Lesser Kestrels are generally seen in loose flocks, over open savanna or cultivated areas. They roost communually, sometimes in huge flocks numbering thousands. They do not build nests, but instead lay up to 6 eggs on cliff ledges, on buildings, in cavities of trees or in the disused nests of other birds. Incubation takes a little short of a month and the young fledge at 4 weeks. They live for up to 9 years in the wild. Diet
Lesser Kestrels mainly eat flying insects, hawked on the wing. They glide in the sky, favouring flying termites, that they catch in their toes. They also prey on small birds. Occasionally, they hover and fly down to prey on crickets, grasshoppers, lizards and mice. Resident
Lesser Kestrels are paleartic migrants, seen in Kenya during October to May. They mostly frequent upland areas in the western half of the country. Extra Lesser Kestrels Facts
Lesser Kestrels have a persistent call, a high-pitched continuous and rapid "chi-chi-chi-chi".
During 1950 - 70, Lesser Kestrels suffered a serious decline, blamed on the use of pesticides. Numbers are now increasing again. Photographs
Photographed at Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.