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This is one of the exciting native birds of prey you can meet at Healesville Sanctuary.
The Black Kite is native to many countries apart from Australia, from Afghanistan to Finland to Thailand. Black Kites are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). In fact, the worldwide population is huge compared to many bird species: an estimated 1 million to 6 million.
The Black Kite is a medium-sized bird of prey, smaller than the Wedge-tailed Eagle.
It is dark brown, not black, with lighter brown markings and pale patches on the wings. The black bill has a yellow cere (area of skin around the nostrils).
An adult Black Kite is up to 55cm in length and has a wingspan of up to 150cm. They build nests in trees. The incubation period is about 38 days.
Black Kites eat lizards, insects (as they fly) and small animals, and, like other birds of prey, are partial to road kill. They have been observed to gather in flocks around bushfires and catch the small animals fleeing from the fire.
These birds are at risk of motor vehicles if they are feasting on road kill and don’t move fast enough away from cars. You can help Black Kites and many other native species by driving carefully on roads in non-built up areas.
They are found around most of Australia and in most types of habitat. A special feature of these birds is their tendency to gather in large flocks, to scavenge. This is one of the reasons Black Kite populations are doing so well, they have adapted to the changes human lifestyle has brought and will keenly rummage tips, rubbish bins and camping grounds for suitable food.