red kite

55 Fun Facts About Red Kites (with Photos, ID & Details)

Red Kites are magnificent birds of prey that can be found throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. They are members of the Accipitridae family and, like other raptors, they use their keen eyesight to hunt small mammals, reptiles, insects and even other birds. In this article, we will explore 55 fun facts about Red Kites with photos for identification purposes! 


  • Identification: The red kite has an unmistakable appearance that’s even more striking when seen in aerial flight: They have a gray head with fine black streaks, a reddish-brown plumage with black streaks on the wingtips, a forked tail, a yellow beak, and a yellow iris, with black pupils.
  • Length: 24 to 28″ in. (48.3-61.0 cm)
  • Weight:  Males: 800–1,200 g (28–42 oz).  Females: 1,000–1,300 g (35–46 oz).
  • Wingspan: 69–70″ in. (120-154 cm).
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Milvus
  • Species: M. milvus
  • Scientific Name: Milvus milvus
  • Range: The red kite’s range extends from Southern Europe to North Africa and eastwards across Asia to Pakistan, India, China, Japan and South Korea.
  • Migration:  They are known to migrate southwards for winter which is typically November through March.
  • Habitat:  The red kite’s habitat ranges from open plains to dense forests and wetlands with shrubs and tall grasses 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. 60,000 – 70,000 individuals.
  • Global Population Pairs: est. 35,000 pairs.
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened (Population decreasing).
  • Breeding Period: March-April.
  • Incubation Length: 31-32 days (per egg)
  • Clutch Size: 1-4 eggs (each egg is laid at 3-day intervals)
  • Number of Broods: 1 Brood
  • Nesting Habits: Nests are often constructed on a main fork or a limb high in a tree, or other tall structure, such as a utility pole, or rooftop from which they can perch to scan for prey. In order to construct a nest, the kite will break off twigs and small branches from nearby vegetation or shrubs, and will line the nest with sheep’s wool, and grass weaving them together into a cup shape. These raptors usually lay one to four eggs each year and both parents share responsibility for incubating it and raising the chick after hatching. 
red kite soaring
Image by Here and now, from Pixabay

Fun Facts About Red Kites

  • Red kites are a member of the broader family of hawks, and closely related to both eagles and buzzards.
  • The scientific name for Red Kites is “Milvus Milvus”.
  • Red Kites are common across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and as far south as South Africa.
  • Red Kites are monogamous, with pairs often staying together for life. 
  • They are migratory, breeding in Europe in summer but wintering in Africa.
  • Red kites are soaring birds, living almost entirely on the wing.
  • Red Kites can reach dive speeds up to 113 mph or 183 kph when hunting.
  • The Red Kites eyesight is 4x stronger than humans.
  • Red Kites perform a complex aerial courtship ritual.
  • Red Kites have a large wingspan – up to 1.5 meters across – making them look much larger than they actually are when in flight.
  • The wingspread of a red kite is equal in span to the average human’s arm span – between 1.5 and 1.8 meters.
  • When flying, they flap their wings very little and glide for long periods.
  • Red Kites often perch on trees or telegraph poles and fence posts, where they can stay for hours at a time.
  • The Red Kite’s talons are very strong as it has to carry weighty fish back to the nest for feeding young.
  • The breeding season for Red Kites is in the spring, usually around the end of March in Britain.
  • The young are born covered in white down and blind, weighing around 6 oz.
  • All nesting material used by Red Kites is brought to the nest by parent birds.
  • They can fly as high as 2,600 feet or 800 meters.
  • Red Kites eat mainly insects and mammals such as mice, voles and rabbits.
  • They prefer to nest in large, old trees or on cliffs where they can go out hunting by flying over grasslands.
red kite roosting
Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay
  • They rarely nest in towns and cities because of the danger of humans causing them to lose their eggs and chicks.
  • Red Kites will attack if their nest is disturbed and will defend it ferociously until the threat is removed.
  • Their life span is up to 25 years of age in the wild, but more than 38 years of age in captivity.
  • They are agile fliers and can fly fast. They have a level flight speed of approximately 55 mph.
  • Red kites are very social, and often return to the same nesting site year after year. 
  • The females are slightly larger than the males, with females weighing 2.2 – 2.8lbs., and males weighing 1.8 – 2.6 lbs.
  • Red Kites are found throughout the Palearctic region from Europe to North Africa. Red Kites are most common in eastern and Central Europe, where they are protected by law. In these regions, Red Kites can be found in forested or open country with large areas of woodland, especially clearings within the forest. 
  • A powerful flier, it darts and swoops on the wing with little effort, and is said to be capable of horizontal speeds between 64 – 80 km/h.
  • The red kite is a carnivorous bird that mainly feeds on carrion (the remains of dead mammals) and is considered an important scavenger. The red kite also feeds on small mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians; it has even been observed catching fish (such as trout) in flight.
  • The red kite is a diurnal bird, breeding in colonies of up to 100 pairs.
  • A group of Red Kites are called a “Wake” or “Kettle”.
  • Red Kites have many uses for humans, including being an indicator species to see how healthy the environment is.
  • Red Kites breed only once a year.
  • They make screeching sounds when they soar.

Related Articles: