Tag Archives: kites

Black Shouldered Kite

Black Shouldered Kite

(Elanus axillaris)

Size(30-33cm):This species of Kite is just a bit bigger than the Shikra.

Area: All India till 1600m in outer Himalayas.

Habitat: Usually grassy countryside, mild forests, cultivated farmlands and open scrubs.

My two words:Black Shouldered Kite has a grey-white plumage. It has blood-red eyes with black markings over them. As the name tells, it has a black markings on shoulders which can be seen clearly both during flight and at rest.

They have yellow nostrils, ceres, legs and talons and a black hooked bill.

Solitary or in pairs. Except for small birds, its diet is same as that of the Shikra-squirrels, rodents, and small reptiles. Mostly hunts on wing. Usually hovering over cultivated fields and scrub with ready legs in search of food. Its iconic dive is worth watching.

Pairs breed between August and January. They lay 3-4 eggs which take a month of incubation. Chicks become fully-grown 30-35 days after leaving the nest and can even hunt for themselves within a week after leaving their nest.

Overall this bird is pretty smart.

~Arjun Basandrai

Black Kite (Pariah kite)

Black Kite

(Milvus migrans)

Size(60-65cm): Medium sized raptor. Just a little small than the Greater-Spotted Eagle.

Area: All India till about 2000m in Himalayas. Above that subspecies M. m. lineautus exists.

Habitat: Forests, human inhabitation and cultivation.

My two words: The birds has a dark brown plumage with paler head and neck. Underparts have streak. The tail is forked.  The outer flight feathers are black and the feathers have dark brown bars and with some mottling at the base. The legs and bill are black. The ceres and the interior of the mouth are yellow.

Black kite is often called Eagle by children and even grown-ups in towns and cities which is slightly bigger in size than the Black Kite and the Kite has a forked tail which is not seen in the Eagle (Greater-spotted/ Indian-spotted/ Steppe/ Tawny Eagle). Black Kite can be differentiated from the Red Kite by its less forked tail.

The Indian subspecies (M. m. govinda and M. m. lineautus) breed during January and March. Eggs are usually 2 in number. Both the male and the female contribute towards making a nest which is a rough base of twigs etc. The nest is often reused.

The diet is the same as that of the Shikra-small animals, rodents, small reptiles and smaller birds.

The call is musical whistling which they utter frequently during breeding season.

 ~Arjun Basandrai