General Description

Body light brown, paler and streaked underneath, wings sandy-brown. Has a distinctive pale 'M' shape on the underwings in flight. Tail long with a rounded tip. Body up to 60 cm long. Wingspan 120-145 cm. Females are larger than males. Whistling Kites have a distinctive call, a rapid ascending whistle.


Whistling Kites usually live near swamps and rivers. They are usually found alone or in pairs. They hunt small live prey including insects, fish, birds and mammals, by swooping while soaring. They will steal prey from other waterbirds and scavenge on carrion, particularly in winter. Whistling Kites maintain and defend territories, and pairs usually remain together for life. Nests are built from sticks and are located in tall trees. Nests can be reused, growing larger each year. They can breed up to three times a year, producing two to three eggs per clutch. Males may help with incubation. Fledglings stay with parents for six to eight weeks. Whistling Kites are often seen soaring high above water or farmland.


New Guinea and New Caledonia. Mainland Australia and Tasmania.


Lowlands, open pastures and grasslands.

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