Due to their similar names the lesser kestrel can be mistaken for the common kestrel, a much more widespread bird of prey. However, the lesser kestrel, which is very rare, is sleeker, has a very distinctive "chay-chay-chay" call, has a bluish stripe on its wing and does not have black patches on its back.
Two populations live in the South of France (136 pairs in Bouches-du-Rhône, 35 in Hérault). This small bird of prey, which mainly feeds on insects, has a limited wingspan of 58 to 72 cm, for a length of 29 to 32 cm. Colonial and migratory, it is found in France from March through early October. It spends the rest of the year in West Africa. Colonies of 1 to 32 pairs have settled in piles of stone in the Crau Plain.
© Philippe Pilard
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Protection of the lesser kestrel: actions in France
The lesser kestrel is a threatened species. In the 1970s its European population decreased by 90% due to the deterioration of its habitats (pesticides, intensification of agricultural activity...). This bird of prey is protected by a national restoration plan in France. Conservation actions aim to extend the species' area of distribution in France, on the one hand by implementing a re-introduction project in Aude, from which the species disappeared in the 1960s, and, on the other hand, by protecting the two existing populations in Hérault and Bouches-du-Rhône.
For more information: crecerellette.lpo.fr