Status and distribution Widespread and locally common in southern Europe and South-West Asia. Breeds throughout Iberia and Balearics, western & southern France, southern Switzerland, Corsica and Sardinia, southern Italy and Sicily, southern coastal Croatia to Albania and throughout mainland Greece. In South-West Asia breeds over much of Turkey east to the Caucasus and northern Iraq, and south through the Middle East to Israel and Jordan. Also breeds in the Atlantic on Madeira, Porto Santo, the Desertas and western Canary Is, and across North Africa from southern Morocco to Tunisia and north-west Libya.
Resident or partial migrant, also an altitudinal migrant in mountain areas.
Vagrants recorded on the Azores and Gibraltar, Malta, Slovenia and Cyprus, and a single record from Britain, in Norfolk in Jun 1981.
Subspecies Five races occur in the Western Palearctic but there is little variation, nominate petronia is found from Iberia and Morocco to western Turkey, with paler and greyer races barbara from Algeria to Libya and exigua from central Turkey to the Caucasus. Middle Eastern race puteicola is palest with finely-streaked underparts. P.p. madeirensis is found on the Atlantic islands.
Habitat Cliffs and gorges, scree slopes and rocky outcrops, semi-desert and desert edge and barren hillsides up to 2500m. Also in cultivated areas, on ruins and in villages. Usually in pairs or small flocks, often nests colonially.