Bird of the week – Whistling kite Haliastur sphenurus

The Whistling Kite is a bird of prey. It is usually seen gliding close to the ground or soaring high in the sky. Its call is a long whistle, followed by four to six short notes.

What the Whistling kite looks like

The Whistling Kite is 50-55 cm in length. The female is larger. It has a pale brown head, breast and belly, a grey-brown tail and brown wings. The underwings have a pale ‘M’ shape on them.  The Whistling Kite has a brown beak, brown eyes and pale grey-brown legs and feet.

Where the Whistling kite lives

The Whistling Kite lives in Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. It is found in open woodlands, grasslands and farmlands near dams, swamps, rivers and lakes.

What the Whistling kite eats

The Whistling Kite eats living prey such as mice, lizards, birds, fishes and insects. It circles above its hunting grounds, then swoops down and picks up prey with its talons. It also feeds on dead animals.

How the Whistling kite breeds

Whistling Kites breed in pairs.

The adults breed from July to January in the south and from March to October in the north. They fly together near the nesting tree and then mate.

The female lays one to three eggs in a stick nest lined with fresh green leaves in a tall tree. She sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after about five and a half weeks.

The male hunts and brings food to the chicks. The chicks leave the nest after about six weeks.

Australian daytime birds of prey

birds of prey

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