kites

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Black Kite

Milvus Migrans

The black kite (Milvus migrans) is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors. It is thought to be the world’s most abundant species of Accipitridae, although some populations have experienced dramatic declines or fluctuations.

Current global population estimates run up to 6 million individuals. Unlike others of the group, black kites are opportunistic hunters and are more likely to scavenge. They spend much time soaring and gliding in thermals in search of food.

This kite is widely distributed through the temperate and tropical parts of Eurasia and parts of Australasia and Oceania, with the temperate region populations tending to be migratory. The European populations are small, but the South Asian population is very large.

Red Kite

Milvus Milvus

The red kite (Milvus milvus) is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers.

The species currently breeds in the Western Palearctic region of Europe and northwest Africa, though it formerly also occurred in northern Iran. It is resident in the milder parts of its range in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and Central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Vagrants have reached north to Finland and south to Palestine and Israel, Libya and Gambia.

The red kite’s diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, young hares and rabbits. It feeds on a wide variety of carrion including sheep carcasses and dead game birds. Live birds are also taken and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. Earthworms form an important part of the diet, especially in spring.

Black-Shouldered Kite

Elanus Caeruleus

The black-shouldered kite (Elanus axillaris), also known as the Australian black-shouldered kite, is a small raptor found in open habitat throughout Australia.

The species forms monogamous pairs, breeding between August and January. The birds engage in aerial courtship displays which involve high circling flight and ritualised feeding mid-air. Three or four eggs are laid and incubated for around thirty days. Juveniles disperse widely from the home territory.

The black-shouldered kite hunts in open grasslands, searching for its prey by hovering and systematically scanning the ground. It mainly eats small rodents, particularly the introduced house mouse, and has benefitted from the modification of the Australian landscape by agriculture.

Yellow-Billed Kite

Milvus Aegyptius

The yellow-billed kite (Milvus aegyptius) is the Afrotropic counterpart of the black kite (Milvus migrans), of which it is most often considered a subspecies.

It is mostly an intra-African breeding migrant, present in Southern Africa July–March and sometimes as late as May. It is generally common. There are no threats to this species as stated by the IUCN, due in part to the fact it has not yet be separated from the black kite.

They are found in almost all habitats, including parks in suburbia, but rare in the arid Namib and Karoo. They feed on a wide range of small vertebrates and insects, much of which is scavenged.

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