Friday, 24 May 2013


On the weekend of 16-19 May 2013, the fourth Festival of Birds took place in Cáceres, in which one of the main stars was the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni). On various occasions it was again stated that the Lesser Kestrel colony in Cáceres (numbering between 250 and 400 pairs – a figure depending on which source one uses) is the largest in Europe. Not wanting in the least to criticise anyone, we would like to correct this mistake which is starting to be repeated so frequently that people are taking it as a fact. Whilst Cáceres holds almost certainly the largest colony (or group of colonies) in Spain, the honour for holding the largest in Europe in fact belongs to a little-known Italian town called Matera, in the region of Basilicata. Matera holds a thousand pairs of Lesser Kestrel (953-1074 pairs to be more exact), that is three times the size of the Cáceres colony. Both sites are also World Heritage sites, in the case of Matra for the extraordinary concentration of cave dwellings. Another unusual fact about Matera is that the Lesser Kestrels roost together in an enormous pine in the town centre where up to 3000 individuals have been cunted before the breeding season. The existence of this curious roost makes counting the birds much easier, something which remains a challenge in Cáceres. It was not necessary to go very far to find out about Matera, indeed we were told by Italian ornithologists at a congress here, in Almendralejo. Hopefully this small blog will help people pay more attention when preparing information about Extremadura, in material to promote the region to visiting birdwatchers, to check facts. Fortunately the incidence of errors is lessening, but from time to time one sees photos of birds wrongly identified or indeed of species from other continents that have never been recorded here.

The photographer is Javier Briz. Translated by Martin Kelsey.

Source: Ceccolini, G., Cenerini, A., Francione, M., y Visceglia, M. 2008. Las acciones del Proyecto LIFE Naturaleza Rapaci lucani para la conservación del Cernicalo primilla (Falco naumanni) en la provincia de Matera - Italia. Actas del VII Congreso Internacional sobre cernícalo primilla. Almendralejo, 20-23 noviembre 2008.