Black Kite

Black Kite


Profile Black Kite
[order] Falconiformes |

[order] Falconiformes | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Milvus migrans | [UK] Black Kite | [FR] Milan noir | [DE] Schwarzmilan | [ES] Milano Negro | [IT] Nibbio bruno | [NL] Zwarte Wouw

Zwarte Wouw determination

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Shorter overall than Red Kite, with broader, notched rather than forked tail. Uniformly coloured, loosely built kite. Plumage dusky-brown, with only noticeable features diffuse pale patches at base of primaries and on upper wing-coverts. Juvenile paler, more tawny below than adult, with bases of primaries whitish and undertail more clearly barred.

Ubiquitous, occuring from semi-desert, grassland and savanna to woodland, but avoids dense forest
Commonly aquatic habitats, rivers, lakes, wetlands,seashores and nearby in meadows and along margins of wetlands. Often linked with man to greater or lesser degree.

This kite inhabits most of Africa and Eurasia, from the Iberian Peninsula to Japan. Northwards it occurs up to 65°N. European populations are wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. About 21000-28000 breeding pairs occur in the European Union, which represents roughly 25% of the total European population. This species is subject to important fluctuations, but globally it undergoes a slow decrease since the beginning of the century. Being largely a scavenger, it is very susceptible to poisoning and pollution by pesticides. The disappearance of extensive pastoralism is another negative factor

Essentially carrion and small or medium sized mammals and birds, also fish, lizards, amphibians and invertebrates can be important locally or seasonally.
Diet varies according to local availability, with proportionally more prey captured during breeding.
More unusually, vegetable matter, particularly oil palm fruits.
Catches prey on ground or water, large insects caught in air, and then eaten on wing. Often forages around margins of waterbodies, and by refuse dumps, slaughterouses or roads, where looks for animals knocked down by traffic.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 130,000-200,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

In temperate zones of Eurasia,Mar-Jun, in tropical Africa, normally in dry season, in S Africa, aug-Dec, in Australia, mainly Jul- Nov.
Solitay or loosely colonial, nests in trees, building nest in fork or on branch or on wide side branch, also on cliff ledges, locally along coast. platform of sticks which often includes rags or plastic, paper, dung or skin.
2-3 eggs, incubation 26-38 days, normally by female almost exclusively, if male brings sufficient food, female may not hunt during entire breeding attempt.

Mainly migratory in west Palearctic, though some southern Eurasian populations largely resident. Exceptional in central Europe in winter. Principal winter quarters south of Sahara: from Sénégal east to Sudan and south to South Africa.
European birds show major south-west movement in autumn, towards important Mediterranean crossing point at Straits of Gibraltar; some south, and others south-east towards Bosporus. Many pass around eastern end of Black Sea. Occurs in Israel both passages, and abundant at Eilat in south in spring. In north-east Africa, common both passages through Eritrea. In central Europe, juvenile dispersal begins late June to early July. Major exodus of all age groups in August though some remain into September or even later. First European breeding birds reach North Africa in July and northern tropics in August. Return movement begins February in Africa; initial arrivals Switzerland late February or early March, and Germany in second half March, but major arrivals central Europe in first half April with immigration continuing to early or mid-May.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 135 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 150 cm
  4. size min.: 55 cm
  5. size max.: 60 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 26 days
  8. incubation max.: 38 days
  9. fledging min.: 42 days
  10. fledging max.: 45 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 2
  13. eggs max.: 3
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Zwarte Wouw status Least Concern


  1. Milvus migrans affinis
  2. Lesser Sundas to Australia
  3. Milvus migrans formosanus
  4. Taiwan and Hainan (off se China)
  5. Milvus migrans govinda
  6. Pakistan and India to Malay Pen. and s Indochina
  7. Milvus migrans lineatus
  8. Siberia to Japan, Indochina and India
  9. Milvus migrans migrans
  10. s and c Europe to n Africa and sc Asia
  11. Milvus migrans
  12. EU, AF, OR, AU widespread
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