Black Kite/Milvus migrans - Adult

Black Kite/Milvus migrans - Photographer: Иван Иванов
Black Kite/Milvus migrans - Photographer: Minka Stoyanova
Black Kite/Milvus migrans - Photographer: Борис Белчев
Black Kite/Milvus migrans - Photographer: Иво Дамянов

L 48-58 cm, WS 130-155 cm. Summer visitor, winters in Africa. Breeds in forests near lakes, rivers or wetlands, also close to human settlements. Annual vagrant to Britain & Ireland. Food fish, offal, refuse, sometimes picked up in harbours or by motorways. Social habits, and where numerous, fairly large flocks can be seen. Nests in tree.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-sized, with slightly forked tail. Distinguished from Red Kite by dark plumage, slightly smaller size, proportionately shorter wings and tail, broader wing-tip and less forked tail, which is grey-brown above, never rufous. Dark brown with paler bases to primaries below (European adults only slightly paler; juveniles, and many eastern migrants in Middle East, much whiter, approaching Red Kite). Upperparts dark brown with pale mid-brown panel across inner wing (same pattern as on Red Kite but darker and duller). If tail-fork not seen (or fork missing through moult, wear, or fanning of tail), possible to confuse with dark-morph Booted Eagle, but latter has light uppertail-coverts, usually white patch at base of forewing and somewhat larger head. Marsh Harrier in dark plumage separated by much less ‘fingered’ wing-tips, lack of pale primary bases below, and by head-on silhouette with raised ‘arm’ and flatter ‘hand’, not arched wings with lowered primaries. - Adult/Juvenile: Ageing much as for Red Kite.
VOICE: Main call recalls Red Kite but is faster, a whinnying ‘pee-e-e-e-e’. Also a Common Buzzard-like mewing call.

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