BLACK KITE. Milvus migrans.
IDENTIFICATION. Both male and female Black Kites have similar dark plumage, with long yellow legs and feet. The head is dark grey with flecks of black. The body, wings and tail are dark brown/black with flecks of grey.
Can be mistaken for either Red Kites or Marsh Harriers.
IN FLIGHT. The flight of the Black Kite is similar to that of the Red Kites. Long angled wings flap slowly during flight and a long tail that is not so deeply forked as its cousin distinguish it. Black Kites are renowned for their fondness for flocking. Flocks numbering into the higher hundreds are not uncommon in their warmer habitats (See Black Kite Pics).
DISTRIBUTION. Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. A rare migrant from France, occasionally seen in the South West of England.
WHEN SEEN. A rare summer visitor.
FOOD. Small mammals, birds and reptiles are taken. Also various insects and carrion. Being a gregarious bird the Black Kite readily co-exists with man. In its native lands it can be seen scavenging rubbish in populated areas, not unlike crows or sea gulls in this country.
BREEDING. Mid April. 2 to 5 eggs laid in large abandoned tree nests. Eggs are incubated from between 28-30 days, flying 45-50 days later.
SIZE. 56cm (22in)
CALL. wee-ooo. The ooo sounding like a horse whinny.
Not generally used as a hunting bird the Black Kite is often seen as a display flier.
If you are thinking of flying a Black Kite, or any, raptor speak to someone who already flies one and can share their . Karen Andriunas of Saker Falconry, says - "Like owls and vultures, Black Kites are normally imprinted to aid training. They tend to be gregarious and good natured birds, and are more amiable than Red Kites. One thing to watch out for is their snatch and grab style on flying. Black Kites feed on the wing and this could lead to a lost bird if allowed to become a habit."
NB. If you buy one of these raptors it should be fitted with a closed leg ring and have an Article 10 form with it (any queries check with DEFRA).