Bird of the week – Black-shouldered kite Elanus axillaris

The Black-shouldered Kite is a bird of prey. It is usually seen flying or hovering over paddocks, or perched on dead trees or power lines. Its call is ‘chee’ while flying and ‘scaarrp’ while perched.

What the Black-shouldered Kite looks like

The Black-shouldered Kite is 33-38 cm in length. It is pale grey above and white below. It has a white head, black shoulders and a black spot under each wing. It has a black hooked beak, red eyes and yellow legs and feet.

Where the Black-shouldered Kite lives

The Black-shouldered Kite lives in all but the driest parts of mainland Australia. It is found in woodlands, grasslands and paddocks.

What the Black-shouldered Kite eats

The Black-shouldered Kite eats mice, lizards, frogs and insects. It hovers or sits on a perch, then drops silently onto prey.

How the Black-shouldered Kite breeds

Black-shouldered Kites breed in pairs.

The adults mostly breed from autumn to spring. A male feeds a female while flying to attract her. The adults mate.

The female lays three or four white eggs in a nest of sticks in a tree. The female does most of the sitting on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after four to four and a half weeks.

The male brings food to the nest and the female feeds it to the chicks. The chicks leave the nest after about five weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Athletics antics

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