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Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite

The Black-shouldered Kite is a small raptor measuring 35–38 cm in length with a wingspan of 80–95 cm. The adult Black-shouldered Kite is a small and graceful, predominantly pale grey and white, raptor with black shoulders and red eyes. Their primary call is a clear whistle, uttered in flight and while hovering.

Their preferred habitat is open grasslands with scattered trees and they are often seen hunting along roadsides. Like all the elanid kites, it is a specialist predator of rodents, which it hunts singly or in pairs by hovering in mid-air above open land. Black-shouldered Kites form monogamous pairs, breeding between August and January. The birds engage in aerial courtship displays which involve high circling flight and ritualized feeding mid-air. Three or four eggs are laid and incubated for around thirty days. Chicks are fully fledged within five weeks of hatching and can hunt for mice within a week of leaving the nest. Juveniles disperse widely from the home territory.

Black-shouldered Kites usually hunt singly or in pairs, though where food is plentiful they occur in small family groups and can be loosely gregarious at times of irruptions, with up to seventy birds reported feeding together during a mouse plague. They are territorial when food is not abundant. The practice of "tail flicking" where, on landing, the tail is flicked up and lowered and the movement repeated persistently is thought to be a possible territorial display. Black-shouldered Kites have been observed in aerial combat at the margins of territories, locking talons in a behaviour described as "grappling".

Black-shouldered Kites live almost exclusively on mice. They take other suitably sized creatures when available, including grasshoppers, rats, small reptiles, birds, and even (very rarely) rabbits, but mice and other mouse-sized mammals account for over 90% of their diet. Their influence on mouse populations is probably significant: adults take two or three mice a day each if they can, around a thousand mice a year.  When hunting the kite hovers with its body hanging almost vertically, and its head into the wind. When hunting from a perch, a dead tree is the preferred platform. Though hovering is the most common hunting method, the Kites have been observed searching the ground beneath a vantage point for periods of up to an hour. When a mouse or other prey is spotted, the kite drops silently onto it, feet-first with wings raised high; sometimes in one long drop to ground level, more often in two or more stages, with hovering pauses at intermediate heights. Prey can either be eaten in flight or carried back to a perch.

Disclaimer: This photograph is taken in the natural habitat. Incase if anybody needs the copy of this picture, please contact me. © All Rights Reserved by Yogesh Rane (www.junglebook.co.in / www.yogeshrane.com)

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 RSS  Disclaimer : This photograph is taken in the natural habitat. Incase if anybody needs the copy of this picture, please contact me. All Rights Reserved by Yogesh Rane (www.junglebook.co.in / www.yogeshrane.com)