Alternate name(s): "Fork-tailed Kite", "Allied Kite", "Kite-Hawk", "Pariah Kite"
Aboriginal name(s): "djillidjilli"
Size: 50-55 cm (male), 55-60 cm (female); wing span 1.2-1.5 m
Weight: Race "affinis" 500-640 g (male), 560-670 g (female)
|Description Classification Distribution Sightings Photos Breeding Nest Eggs Behaviour Food Call/s|
See Black Kite at Wikipedia .
This race is also called the "Fork-tailed Kite".
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Lateral/ventral view of a moulting female(?) Black Kite,
giving in particular its tail an unusual appearance; however,
note the typical yellow gape and feet (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Ivanhoe Crossing, Kununurra, WA, January 2016]
Frontal view of a Black Kite on the ground
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, July 2018]
While banking this Black Kite opens up a great view of its
in brilliant sunlight
[Narrabri, NSW, September 2011]
Direct comparison between a Black Kite, upper left, and a
the former is flying at a somewhat lower altitude and therefore
only appears to be larger - both were waiting for prey, probably
locusts, to drop dead in a cotton field that had just been
sprayed by a crop duster plane
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, February 2018]
Near-frontal view of a juvenile Black Kite
(photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, October 2017]
Near-frontal/ventral view of a juvenile Black Kite in flight
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Kakadu NP, NT, July 2020]
Black Kite seen from straight behind - note the kinked wings and the
skewed tip of the tail, both of which are typical of Black Kites
[Near Baan Baa, NSW, 2005]
This race is also called the "European Black Kite".
|Breeding season: Jul - Dec||Eggs: 2 - 3||Incubation period: ca. 35 days||Fledging age: ca. 40 days|
The breeding season for Black Kites depends on geographical latitude and weather conditions. In the tropical north, they can breed any time of the year.
Note that, by the time they fledge (i.e., leave their nest), the young of all species of raptors - apart from the tail and wing feathers (which are still growing) - are already full adult-size.
|"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]|
|Type: Basket||Material: Sticks; leaves, grass, bark, wool lining||Height above ground: 10 - 20(?) m|
Black Kite nest - possibly a recycled nest of Australian Ravens (photo
courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Moree, NSW, February 2014]
|"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]|
|Size: 52 x 42 mm||Colour: Creamy, with light- to mid-brown speckles||Shape: Tapered oval|
|Social behaviour: Communal||Mobility: Nomadic/dispersive||Elementary unit: Flock|
Black Kites are the first bird species to re-enter open grassland after a fire, looking for prey that has been killed by the fire. In more vegetated bushland, this role falls to Brown Falcons.
Black Kites are the only species of raptor known to us that will congregate in large flocks. In the Outback, up to 50 were spotted by us together in one flock. Near the rubbish tip in Darwin, NT, we found a flock of about 1000 Black Kites.
Hundreds of Black Kites, both adult and sub-adult, above a
rubbish tip (click on
photo to see the full frame; there were even more birds around that
are not shown on this wide-angle shot); we could not identify a single
raptor in this crowd that was not a Black Kite
[Narrabri, NSW, May 2013]
Part of a flock of Black Kites at the local
[Narrabri, NSW, June 2020]
About half of a huge flock of Black Kites seen near a rubbish tip,
where they had been breeding successfully for two seasons in a row
[Narrabri, NSW, August 2012]
|Adults: Carrion, small mammals, birds||Dependents: As adults||Water intake: None|
All raptors are carnivores. Black Kites mainly feed on carrion. They are often found around rubbish tips. Black Kites have a preference for "deep-fried" prey; they specialize in cleaning up after bushfires.
We have once spotted two Black Kites perched in a dead tree, above a flock of Little Red Flying-foxes (bats), possibly hoping for a juvenile to be lost by its mum (full-grown flying-foxes are too big to be potential prey for Black Kites).
During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.
Group of Black Kites hoping to find a deep-fried meal in a
after a burnoff
[Near Bourke, NSW, September 2012]
For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.
|? + contact call||© MD|
? + contact call +