The lesser kestrel – ‘falco grillaio’ in Italian – is one of the most important European species of falcon. In the local dialect it is known as “striscignl”, an onomatopoeic word that renders well the sound of this kestrel’s cry. It looks like a miniature kestrel but its cry, the colour of its talons, its beak, and the shape of its wings are different. Its limbs are short and robust with 3 cm long tarsi. The toes are yellow, with claws that are not particularly sharp and typically light in colour.

The lesser kestrel is a small migratory falcon. It arrives from Southern Africa between the beginning of March and the end of April to nest between roof tiles, holes in walls and cornices of buildings and churches in the historic centre and in the ‘Sassi’. 1,000 breeding pairs have been recorded in Matera.

The ‘falco grillaio’ feeds on insects such as grasshoppers, butterflies, beetles and crickets – ‘grilli’ in Italian – from which its name originates.

After the breeding season, between August and October, they are ready to winter.