The Lesser-Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a migratory bird that returns to the Southern Alentejo every year from sub-Saharan Africa, or even from further away, as South Africa.

An elegant falcon, slightly smaller than the Common-Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus),  you can easily find it gliding over ploughs and cereal crops, in agile flights and rapid wingbeats. It preys mainly on invertebrates, with a special taste for grasshoppers, and micro mammals.

The first males can be heard by the beginning of February. After resting from the migration, they start looking for nesting sites. The females arrive a few weeks later, and after some visits, they finally decide together the right space. But they do not worry too much, a cavity in a ruin, or a safe nest box is just fine for this species.

They usually nest in colonies, on abandoned farms and decaying buildings. Formerly, there were Lesser-Kestrel colonies in many of the southern villages. Nowadays, Mértola is the only town in Portugal a breeding colony remained. And during spring, they fill up the air with their sounds and amuse the people strolling the streets of Mértola, with their subtle and yet quick flights.

How we are protecting the Lesser-Kestrel colony in Mértola?

In joint effort with with ICNF – Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana and Mértola Municipal Council, we are improving nesting conditions for the lesser kestrel colonies.

Every year, we install two nest boxes with cameras to monitor the breeding success of the pairs, and ring the chicks before they leave the nest.

By creating more spaces available for breeding, we are helping the long-term maintenance of the species in the territory. In addition, the ‘inside the nest’ images and public ringing events we organise, allow us to reach out to local and tourist communities, highlighting the importance of protecting the species.

As caixas-ninho estão preparadas para receber uma câmara que transmite imagens em direto.

Veja a reportagem especial feita pelo Jornal Público, em Junho de 2021.

#InsidetheNest Videos

Stories and gossips from inside the nest-boxes.

Cleaning day for the Lesser-Kestrel

Incubation technics

40 degrees inMértola: the chicks are melting!

Couple exchanges

Spotless starlings (Sturnus unicolor) often take advantage of nest boxes and arrive first… In 2021 they will be able to incubate, but they are not always lucky!


When they become famous...