Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Elanus
Species: E. caeruleus

The Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) is a small bird of prey. This bird is unmistakable. It has a white head with a black “mask”, and white underparts except for black tips to its narrow falcon-like wings. Upperparts are blue-grey except for black shoulder patches.

Like other raptors, Black-winged Kites have excellent eyesight, and powerful bills and claws. To hunt, they may perch-and-wait, usually during the hotter part of the day or when it’s raining.

It is a species primarily of open land and semi-deserts in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia.

It prefer live prey and hunt small rodents and birds (rails and young bitterns, occasionally mynas). They also eat some reptiles (lizards) and large insects. Where food is scarce, they may eat carrion.

They prefer hunting sites with good perches and a favourite perch may be used daily.Black-winged Kites are found in open country like back mangroves, grasslands and oil-palm plantations. Although seen in secondary growth and forest edges, they are not found in the forest.

Black-winged Kites breed year round. Males court with mock dive-attacks on a perching female and a mated pair may perform aerial displays or soaring and chasing, and calling from the nest tree. It nest high up in trees or palms (especially coconut palms), 6-46m above the ground. The nest is an untidy small platform (1m across) built of thin sticks with a lining of fine twigs or grass stems.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park,
Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India
December 2008

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