About animals

Kites (Milvus)


This species is listed in the Red Book of Russia

The black kite is a large bird of prey (one and a half times larger than the crow) of the hawk family. Dark brown uniform plumage without variegated spots, head lighter, with a grayish tint. The rainbow is brown or yellow-brown, the beak is dark, the waxen and undecorated parts of the legs are yellow. Females do not differ from males in appearance, but the body is not much larger. The length of the black kite is 45-60 cm, the wingspan is about 150 cm, body weight reaches one kilogram. The black kite is characterized by a somewhat “disheveled” plumage - feathers stick out slightly on the body, neck and head.


Unlike most birds of prey, the black kite often settles in small colonies. Black kites nest in forests, near rivers and swamps. Egg laying occurs in late April - early May. In clutch up to 4 white eggs with brown spots. The female lays eggs for a little over a month, and the male at this time procures her food.

They often decorate their nests with green branches of other trees, flowers, bright rags or bottles, presumably in order to mark their territory and scare away other birds from attacking the nest.

The diet is extremely diverse: various kinds of animal food (small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, insects). It can feed on carrion and garbage.

The average life expectancy of kites is 25 years.

Bird description

Kites are large predators, they reach a height of about half a meter in height, and the weight of adults reaches 1 kg. The wings are narrow and long; their wingspan is 1.5 m.

Beak of kite is hook-shaped, weak, legs are short. The color of plumage in kites is the most diverse, usually dark and brown tones predominate in it, less often white or red.

What eats

The main food of the kite is carrion - the corpses of small and large mammals, snakes, as well as a variety of animal waste. Birds also eagerly eat insects, less often the object of their hunt is frogs and lizards, or other birds. In addition, kites include live fish, crustaceans, mollusks and worms in their diet.

The diet of kites is useful in that these birds of prey act as orderlies in forests and ponds, as they destroy sick animals, fish, and their corpses. Such food many times exceeds the possible harm from the fact that kites eat meadow animals, chicks or small birds.

Kites can also harm humans when abducting ducklings, chickens or goslings. To prevent such attacks, farmers often use special bird repellents.

Kites are lazy birds, they hunt well, but rarely do it. More often, kites monitor the behavior of other animals and birds that are looking for prey, and even people, for example, watching fishermen, kites find places rich in fish for themselves.

Where dwells

The distribution range of kites covers the countries of the Old World, especially large populations of these birds live in the east and south of Europe. For life, birds prefer a wooded area located near ponds.

Kites are migratory birds, only certain groups are sedentary. Birds migrate in large flocks, which include up to hundreds of individuals, which is rare for birds of prey. The wintering places of kites are located in the warm countries of Asia and Africa, in a tropical climate.

Whistle Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)

The bird is medium in size with a small head and a long tail. The body length is from 50 to 60 cm, the wingspan reaches 146 cm. The mass is in the range from 380 to 1050 g. Females are larger than males, but do not differ in plumage color. In adults, the head, breast and tail are dark yellow in color, the wings are brown, with black feathery feathers. Young birds are variegated, with red-brown stripes and pale spots on the wings. Paws not feathered, light, short.

The species is common in Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, where it inhabits woodlands located near water bodies. Sedentary bird.

The bird got its name because of the loud whistling screams that it emits during the flight.

Brahmin kite (Haliastur indus)

A medium-sized bird of prey that lives on the Indian subcontinent, in southeast Asia, in Australia. You can meet this species, both on the plains and in the Himalayas at heights of up to 1,500 meters above sea level. For life, the Brahmin kite chooses coasts or swamps, where it finds its food - fish.

The color of the plumage in adults is reddish brown, the head and breast are white. According to these signs, the Brahmin kite is easy to distinguish from afar. The species is sedentary, can only roam during the rainy season.

Slug Eater (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

The body length of the bird is from 35 to 42 cm, weight reaches 400 g. This species has sexual dimorphism. In males, the plumage is coal-black, the tail is gray in color with a wide black stripe. Eyes and legs are red. Females are feathered in brown with brown streaks. The species is distinguished by a thin beak with an elongated, bent down beak, which is necessary for the bird to get its freshwater snails of the genus Pomacea from its shells.

The habitat of the species includes the Florida Peninsula, Cuba, Central and South America.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

The species does not have sexual dimorphism. The plumage of the body, tail from above and covering feathers on the wings is tan, with dark stripes on the chest. Paws are bright yellow. In young individuals, the breast and tummy are light. Rainbow amber. The beak is yellow in color, dark gray or black at the tip, sharp, bent down. The wings and tail are long. There is a forked notch on the tail, which is less pronounced in young birds.

Outwardly, the red kite is very similar to the black one, but it has a deeper notch on the tail, as a whole it is larger and lighter than its relative.

The species is common in Scandinavia, in the center and in the south of Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Iran, Africa, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands. Birds that nest in the north and east of the range (in Sweden, Poland, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) are migratory, in winter they migrate south and west, to the Mediterranean regions. Individuals in the southwestern range are sedentary.

Red kite lives in deciduous and mixed forests, not far from open spaces.

In the 20th century, the red kite population declined sharply. The main reason was the pursuit of birds by humans (hunting them, collecting eggs, using poisoned baits), as well as the economic use of the lands on which kites are accustomed to nest. Today, European red kite populations are beginning to recover.

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

The body length of the bird is from 50 to 60 cm, weight is about 1 kg, the wing length is from 41 to 51 cm, the wingspan is from 140 to 155 cm. Females are larger than males.

In adult birds, the back is dark brown, the crown is white with black, the wings are dark brown, the tummy is brown, with a reddish tinge. Beak and paws are yellow. The rainbow is pale brown or yellow-brown.

The species lives in Africa (except the Sahara desert), Madagascar, Asia, the Philippine Islands, Sulawesi Island, New Guinea, and northern Australia. Large populations of black kite live in Russia and Ukraine. The bird usually settles in the forest-steppe zone, near large rivers, and sometimes it is found even in large cities, for example, in Novosibirsk and Barnaul. In the Palaearctic, the species is migratory; in other areas of the range, it is settled.

Interesting Facts

  • In Indonesia, the bird is called "Elang Bondol", it is the mascot of Jakarta.
  • Inhabitants of India perceive the kite as the embodiment of the sacred bird Vishnu - Garuda.
  • One of the islands of Malaysia is named after the Brahmin kite.