RED KITE. Milvus milvus
IDENTIFICATION. Both sexes of Red Kite have the same colouration of plumage. The head is grey with flecks of black, the body, wings and tail a rusty red. Long angled wings and the give away forked red tail make it an easy bird to identify when in flight.
Mistaken for moulting buzzards or the rare migrant Black Kite.
IN FLIGHT. The flight of the Red Kite is often described as 'gull like'. In the air the forked tail and narrow angle wings are the easiest form of identification. Soaring and waiting on can often be witnessed on updrafts over wooded ridges and hilly areas.
DISTRIBUTION. Almost extinct by 1900 the Red Kite is making a come back to the British skies thanks to the tireless efforts of conservation groups. Release programmes are giving people the opportunity to see this unmistakable, fork tailed, raptor across the country. The preferred habitat of the Red Kite is open hill country with wooded areas.
WHEN SEEN. All year round.
FOOD. Mainly small mammals up to rabbit size. Carrion. When not persecuted kites co-exist with man quite readily and this can lead to scavenging rubbish in urban areas.
BREEDING. Mid April. 2 to 5 eggs laid in large abandoned tree nests. Eggs are incubated from between 28-30 days, with the young flying 45-50 days later. If a clutch of eggs are predated or stolen the female will only rarely re-cycle the clutch.
SIZE. 61cm (25in)
WINGSPAN. 175cm-195cm (5ft 9in- 6ft 5in)
Not generally used as a hunting bird the Red Kite is often seen as a display flier.
If you are thinking of flying a Red 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, Red Kites are normally imprinted to aid training. They tend not to be as gregarious as Black Kites, but their nature is generally good. One thing to watch out for with kites is their snatch and grab style on flying. 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).