This species breeds from the Mediterranean across southern central Asia to China. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and India. It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European range. It is rare any distance north of its breeding areas.
It nests colonially on buildings, cliffs, or in tree holes, laying up to 3-6 eggs. No nest structure is built, which is typical for falcons.
It is a small bird of prey, very like a Common Kestrel but with shorter wings and tail and pale claws. It shares a brown back and barred grey underparts with the larger species. The male has a grey head and tail like male Common Kestrel, but lacks the dark spotting on the back, and has grey patches in the wings.
The female and young birds are slightly paler than their relative, but are so similar that call and structure are better guides than plumage. The call is a diagnostic harse chay-chay-chay, unlike the Common Kestrel's kee-kee-kee.
It eats insects, which are often taken on the ground.