Black-shouldered Kite

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Black-shouldered Kite - The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries/McCann | Black-shouldered Kite - Bob Winters | Black-shouldered Kite - Bob Winters | Black-shouldered Kite - Bob Winters | Black-shouldered Kite - Bob Winters

Elanus axillaris


A medium-small raptor (35-38 cm). Pale grey on upper surface. Head, body and tail are pure white. Black shoulders. Wings are white underneath with black wing tips. Yellow nostrils, legs and feet.


Details
Type
Bird
Group
Animals
Raptor
Biology

These birds form monogamous pairs which remain together for the year. Both sexes build a nest on a high tree, bridge or power pole. Breeding season is usually from April to December or whenever prey is abundant. Clutch size is 2-4. The female incubates the eggs for 30-34 days and the young leave the parents after a month.

Distinctive Markings

Black shoulder patch. Distinctive black, comma shape above and behind the red eye.

Taxonomy
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Falconiformes
Family
Accipitridae
Genus
Elanus
Species
axillaris

Found across mainland Australia but has been sighted in northern Tasmania and on some islands in Bass Strait.

Source: Atlas of Living Australia

These birds are often observed hovering high above their prey, often with their feet dangling. They 'parachute' onto their prey with their wings held up in a deep 'V' shape.


Interesting Facts
Diet

Carnivore. Feeds mainly on rodents, in particular the introduced house mouse. Also eats insects, especially grasshoppers.

Habitat

Occupies treed grasslands, farms, roadsides, vacant wastelands of urban and coastal areas. Also found in heaths or saltbush with sparsely scattered trees.

Native Status
Native to Australia
Audio
Sounds
Short, piping "siep" repeated every 5 seconds. Husky "scrair" repeated every 5-10 seconds. Contact call "chek, chek, chek". Distress call is an aggressive "kik - kik - kik -".