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Letter-winged Kite

(Elanus scriptus)
Size: 30-36 cm; wing span 85-95 cm
Weight: 280-300 g


Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Letter-winged Kite at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information



Sex unknown

Near-dorsal view of a Letter-winged Kite perched on a tree top (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Diamantina NP, QLD, August 2019]

Direct comparison between a Black-shouldered Kite, left, and a Letter-winged Kite, right - note the differences in the black eye patch and the colour of the legs/feet; the difference in the appearance of the upperwing patch may be a projection effect
(photos courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Diamantina NP, QLD, August 2019]

Distant ventral view of a Letter-winged Kite in flight; note the characteristic "W" pattern on the underwings
(photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Diamantina NP, QLD, August 2019]


Very distant view of a juvenile Letter-winged Kite perched on a tree top
[Near Wilcannia, NSW, March 2008]


The Letter-winged Kite is special, because it is the only fully nocturnal raptor.

Food, Diet

Adults: Long-haired Rats Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores.

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.

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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