black kite

47 Fun Facts About Black Kite (with Photos, ID & Details)

In this article, we’ll be exploring 47 fun facts about black kites with photos and details so that you can learn more about these fascinating birds!. We’ll cover the basics like what they are and where they live, as well as more in-depth topics such as their diet and mating habits.

Table of Contents

Overview

  • Identification: The Black Kite has a dark brown plumage throughout with lighter shading on the head, face, neck, breast and belly regions. Its back and outermost flight feathers, are black with some white barring/patterning. It has a black hooked beak with a yellow cere,  and gape. They also have yellow legs, and long black talons.
  • Length: 19-24″ in (48.3-61.0 cm)
  • Weight: 22.2-33.2 oz (1.4-2.1 lbs.)
  • Wingspan: 47.2-60.6″ in (120-154 cm)
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Subfamily: Milvinae
  • Genus: Milvus
  • Species: M.migrans
  • Scientific Name: Milvus migrans
  • Range: The species breeds across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia; northern South America; Southern Europe (except for Greece); north-west India; Sri Lanka; Madagascar; continental Southeast Asia including Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
  • Migration:  Kites are migratory birds that migrate to sub-Saharan Africa during winter months, usually staying near coastal areas or mountain ranges where food is abundant year round.
  • Habitat:  Heathland, marshland, moorland, plains, coastal areas,  and even mountainsides.
  • Diet: Insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, fish, lizards, frogs, lizards, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, mice, voles, rats, birds or carrion (dead animals).
  • Global Population: est. 1,000,000-2,500,000 individuals.
  • Conservation Status: Listed Least Concern (Population is stable).
  • Breeding Period: March-August
  • Incubation Length: 30-34 days
  • Clutch Size: 2-3 eggs
  • Number of Broods: 1 Brood
  • Nesting Habits: Nests are often constructed near a tree or other tall structure such as a rooftop, or utility pole from which they can perch to scan for prey. In order to construct a nest, the kite will break off small branches, and twigs from nearby vegetation or shrubs with its beak and weave them together into a cup shape. These raptors usually lay two to three eggs each year and both parents share responsibility for incubating it and raising the chick after hatching. 

Fun Facts about Black Kite

They live all over the world except Antarctica.

The Black Kite lives all over the world except in some parts of Asia, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. 

The Black Kite is from the genus Milvus.

The Black Kite is from the genus Milvus, which is an Old World group consisting of three kites that form part of the subfamily Milvinae.

The Black Kite has a long lifespan.

The Black Kite has a lifespan up to 24 years in the wild and up to 28 years in captivity.

Chicks stay at their nest for up to 2 months.

Kite chicks stay at their nest for approximately 2 months. They don’t fly out of the nest until they are old enough to find food and fend for themselves.

They live in many habitats.

They can be found in open country with scattered trees, woodlands, mountainsides, grasslands, coastal areas, and swamps.

Black kites are mostly scavengers

Black kites are mostly scavengers, but they will also take live prey when the opportunity arises. The species eats about 20% of its body weight daily, which can be as much as 0.4 pounds (0.2 kilograms) of food per day for an adult black kite.

They are a monogamous species, meaning they mate for life.

Black kites are a monogamous species, meaning they mate for life, and will stay with their partner until one of them dies. They share in parenting duties of their young, which is called “cooperative breeding.”

Both the male and female take care of the eggs, feeding them, guarding them from predators, and rearing the chicks. If one dies before the other during this process, then it’s possible for the remaining bird to either take a new mate or raise the chicks by themselves.

Black kites perform a complex aerial courtship ritual.

Black kites are one of the few species in which both sexes perform a complex aerial courtship ritual. They will use loud squawking, tussling with their talons, and tumbling in the air to display themselves to potential mates.

The females can be choosy about whom they mate with because they often need to find an alpha male so that their chicks will have good genes for survival. This means males must put on an impressive show to get them interested.

Nesting sites are made from many materials.

Nesting sites are usually made from sticks and twigs, but sometimes these nests may also contain pieces of cloth or plastic for lining (which could come from things like water bottles).

They build their nests on tree branches, cliff ledges, or buildings.

Black kites are one of the few birds that will build their nests on tree branches, cliff ledges, or buildings. They may reuse the same nest for years to come. It has been noted that most nesting sites are not high up in trees but instead on lower limbs where it is easier to see predators coming and have better access to prey items. 

Image by Sandeep Handa from Pixabay

The male and female share responsibility for building the nest.

The male and female share responsibility for building the nest. The male bird is generally responsible for bringing material to build the nest, with the female only joining in.

The female does most of the incubation, but both parents take turns to provide warmth by sitting on top of their eggs or chicks. When it comes time to feed their young, both parents feed them, but they have different roles – one feeds and the other guards.

Nestling’s will begin hopping from branches within 52 days.

In the days following their hatching, a nestling’s feathers will begin to grow in 18-22 days. Nestlings stand up after 16-20 days and start wing flapping after 25-32 days. At around the 52-day mark, they usually begin moving around close to their nest, hopping from branches.

They make a “sweeping” gesture with their wings.

They make a “sweeping” gesture with their wings when they descend to earth in anticipation of prey.

They hunt by watching the ground for movement.

They hunt by watching the ground for movement and then dive feet first, sometimes from quite high altitudes. When they see their prey, they will swoop down in a dive to catch it in their talons.

Black kites use an unusual hunting technique.

Black kites use an unusual technique to hunt their prey: they often drop on the prey’s back and then pull it up towards them, a strategy used by other birds of prey such as the Harris Hawk or Steppe Eagle.

Black Kites have been recorded soaring at high heights.

Black Kites have been recorded soaring at heights up to 800 meters above sea-level. Kites are a species of hawk that has been known to spend time in the air as high as 2600 feet (0.8 kilometers) and as low as 100 feet (30 meters). 

They will perch on high power lines, waiting for prey to cross.

 Black kites usually perch on high power lines or trees waiting for prey to cross below them so they can swoop down and capture it with their claws. 

The biggest populations can be found in Southern Asia.

The Black Kite is the most common species of kite found in Asia. The biggest populations are found throughout most of southern Asia (from the foothills of the Himalayas all the way down to India).

A female broods once a year.

A female broods once a year, of two to three white eggs with dark brown speckles. Incubation is carried out by both parents and takes around thirty days. The chicks are fed mainly on insects and small lizards for the first few weeks of their lives, before they begin to eat scraps from their parents’ catches.

The Black Kite has a wide range of vocalizations.

The Black Kite is a bird with a wide range of vocalizations. They have screeches, cackles, clicks and simple “cries”. These sounds are mainly used to scare other animals away from their territory or for communicating.

Black Kites will migrate when food sources are low.

Every year, black kites migrate from northern and Central Europe to Southern Africa. As climate change shifts the population of food sources, they must find new ways to survive. 

It uses its long tail to assist with maneuverability.

The black kite is a migratory bird of prey, and uses its long tail to assist with maneuverability while soaring and gliding during migration. The tail feathers provide a stabilizing effect on the bird, which allows it to make sharp turns and shifts in flight direction without using much energy.

Migrating birds will often flap their wings when they need to gain altitude or slow down in flight, but the black kite does not use this method for flying. Instead, it uses updrafts from thermals created by ground heat.

black kite flying
Image by michel kwan from Pixabay

French sailors who kept them as pets on long sea voyages.

The black kite became known in Western Europe during the late 18th century after being introduced to France by French sailors who kept them as pets on long sea voyages.

Black kites are the most widely distributed raptors in the world.

Black kites are one of the most widely distributed raptors in the world. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and they live in nearly all types of habitats, from tundra to deserts. 

Black Kites can dive at a speed of nearly 100 mph.

The black kite is a bird of prey in the genus Milvus, and it has been recorded to dive at speeds up to 99.3 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour). This amazing speed can be achieved by the black kite when attacking its prey

The Black Kites eyesight is 4x stronger than humans.

The Black Kites eyesight is 4x stronger than humans. They can see food from many kilometers away, and will quickly swoop down to get it with their sharp talons.

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