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Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Class: Aves
Family: Acciptridae
Common Name: Black-winged Kite
Genus: Elanus
Species Name: caeruleus

About The Black-winged Kite

The black-winged kite is frequently seen alone or in pairs, perched on bare tree branches, posts and telephone wires where it constantly scans the ground for prey whilst repeatedly flicking its tail up and down (8). Mainly active in the morning and at dusk, during hunting the black-winged kite displays exceptional flying abilities. From its perch, this species swoops rapidly down upon its prey snatching it up in its talons. At other times, it hovers 30 to 40 metres above its prey, noiselessly descending downwards in small swoops, before plunging perpendicularly towards the ground with wings raised and feet outstretched. The black-winged kite has a broad diet, mainly consisting of small grassland rodents, but it will also take birds, lizards, snakes and frogs from the ground, and will catch bats and large insects while in flight (5). In the northern parts of its range the black-winged kite is mainly nomadic, whereas in the tropical southern parts it tends to remain in a single location throughout the year. The breeding season varies according to location, with northern populations breeding from late February to early August, while tropical and sub-tropical populations may breed all year round, but generally peak towards the end of the rainy season. Unusually for a bird of prey, when food is abundant some populations may produce two or more broods in a single year (5). Courtship consists of chasing and mutual soaring, with occasional cartwheeling, in which the birds face each other, gripping talons, and spiral downwards for a short distance (5) (8). Once a breeding pair has been established, they work together to build a small, flat nest from twigs (5) (8). The female then lays a clutch of three to five eggs, which are incubated for around 26 days, while the male brings food. Generally the young are ready to fly at around 30 to 35 days after hatching, but still frequently return to the nest and continue to receive food from the parent birds (8).

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