Wild Birds

Black-winged Kites

The Black-winged Kites (Elanus caeruleus) is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers.

Black-winged Kites In The Branch Of The Wood
Black-winged Kites In The Branch Of The Wood

This species was formerly referred to as the Black-shouldered Kite, but this name is now used for the Australian species, Elanus axillaris, at one time (along with the American White-tailed Kite E. leucurus) treated as a subspecies of E. caeruleus.

Distribution / Range

It is a species primarily of open land and semi-deserts in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia, but it has a foothold in Europe in Spain.

It nests in trees.

Diet / Feeding

It takes live prey such as small mammals, birds, and insects. The slow hunting flight is like a harrier, but it will hover like a Kestrel.

Black-winged Kites on a Wire
Black-winged Kite on a Wire


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.

The Black-winged Kite tail is short and square, quite unlike the more familiar Milvus kites.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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