Lesser Kestrel

Falco naumanni Fleischer, 1818

Cerchneis cenchris: Reiser, 1894: 108; Cerchneis naumanni: Prostov, 1964: 41.

Order Falconiformes

Family Falconidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Critically endangered CR=[A2(a+c) + 3c]+B[1(a) + (b)(i)(ii)(iv)(v)] + C[2(a)(i)] + D, BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-VU, CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II, ECS-Spec 1, BD-I.

General distribution. A Turkestan-Mediterranean species. It breeds locally in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Asia Minor and the Near East, Southern Russia, Caucasus, Central Asia in the east to China. In Europe, there are 35 000 42 000 pairs.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. In the past it had numerous colonies, mainly in the towns and villages in Southern Bulgaria. As per 1960, the numbers abruptly diminished and most colonies disappeared [1, 2, 3, 4]. Since 1985 it has been breeding mainly in the Rhodopes, the valley of the Rusenski Lom River, the mountains Eastern Balkans, Sakar and in Southwestern Bulgaria. For 2005, singular pairs are possible, there are no nests known [5, 6]. It migrates in unknown numbers over the whole of the country, after 2000 mainly along the Black Sea coast [3, 4, 5, 7, 8], possibly also in Eastern Bulgaria [9].

Habitats. Rocks and ground walls within the country, in the past also in urban areas and in riverside old trees.

Biology. Colonial, breeding in niches, platforms or cavities in buildings or trees [2]. Since 1985 it has been breeding also singularly, or with several pairs [5]. It arrives in March-April, lays 4-5 eggs in May. The young ones fly away July-August. Migration is from the middle of March to the beginning of May and from the beginning of August to the middle of October [3, 4]. Its food consists of insects and small reptiles.

Similar species. The Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).

Negative factors. Probably the decline of the species in all of its area. The major reasons have to do with changes in breeding and its feeding habitats, and also with threats in the places of wintering in Africa. Potential threats in Bulgaria are turning pastures into arable land, destruction of places appropriate for breeding, direct destruction of the species and also pollution with poisonous substaces in its regions of distribution.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. An international Action Plan has been adopted including Bulgaria. Monitoring of the habitats in the mountains Eastern Rhodopes and Sakar Planina. The regions of finding declared Important Bird Areas [10] and sites belonging to the Natura 2000 network [11]. Most of the breeding places are included in protected territories (the Rusenski Lom Natural Park, the reserves Chervenata Stena and Valchi Dol, the Kovankaya Protected Locality) [12]. The declaration of the Eastern Rhodopes as Natural Park has been proposed [12].

Conservation measures needed. Provision of a National Plan for conservation and its implementation; protection measures for the species in the management plans of all protected territories in which it is found. Declaring the Eastern and the Western Rhodopes Natural Parks, development and implementation of plans for their management. Assessment of the opportunities for multiplication in closed space and reintroduction in suitable areas.

References. 1. Red Data Book of Bulgaria, 1985; 2. Simeonov et al., 1990; 3. Iankov et al., 1994; 4. Barov, 2002; 5. Ornithological Database, BSPB; 6. Iankov, in press; 7. Zalles & Bildstein, 2000; 8. Michev et al, 2004; 9. G. Daskalova, personal communication; 10. Kostadinova, 1997; 11. Kostadinova, Gramatikov, in press; 12. Stoychev, Petrova, 2003.

Authors: Boris Barov, Simeon Marin, Ivelin Ivanov

Lesser Kestrel (distribution map)

Lesser Kestrel (drawing)