General Description

A dark brown medium-sized bird of prey that from a distance appears almost black. It has a pale brown bar across its wings and a pale brown face. In flight it has long slightly drooped wing tips and a forked to triangular tail that it twists and tilts. The underwing has a slightly paler patch towards the tips, but this is often not obvious. Dark brown bill and eyes with a yellow cere (bare area of skin above the beak). To 55 cm.


Black Kites are usually seen in flocks, sometimes of hundreds, soaring and swooping effortlessly in the sky above. They are often seen in large numbers swooping in and out of the smoke of northern Australian fires after insects and reptiles that are escaping or cooked by the fire. Also commonly seen feeding on carrion on outback roadsides. Occasionally pairs and small groups can be seen tumbling about the sky in ritualised courtship displays. The nest is a robust cup of sticks and twigs in the fork of a tall tree, often along a watercourse. Sometimes they nest in groups. They lay 2-3 dull white eggs blotched with reddish brown.


Across Australia.


Woodlands, open country and around towns, particularly near rubbish dumps and abattoirs.

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