Red Kite Scientific name :- Milvus milvus
SIZE: 60 - 66 CM (23½ - 26 in)
HABITAT: Farmland, Sheep Country, Breeds in woodland.
IDENTIFYING FEATURES: Medium-sized raptor. The red kite is a brownish chestnut color, with a subtle mix of paler orange/buff and darker brown or black streaking. The main wing feathers are dark brown, which contrast with striking white patches under the wings. The pale grey head is streaked with black. The bright yellow legs and feet can often be seen when the bird is in flight.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Buzzard, Marsh Harrier.
WHAT THEY EAT:- Carrion, worms and small mammals.
The red kite is a monogamous breeder. The nest is built by both birds on a main fork high in a tree, 12-20m above ground. It is constructed of dead twigs and lined with grass and other vegetation. A quantity of sheep wool is often added 2-3 days prior to egg laying. New material is added to the nest throughout the breeding season, and a nest that has been in use for a number of seasons grows to a considerable size. If nesting is successful, the same nest is used the following year. At times even old buzzard or raven nests are used.
The clutch of 1-3 (occasionally 4) white eggs with red-brown spots are laid at 3 day intervals in April. The incubation is by the female alone for 31-32 days per egg, i.e. 38 days for a clutch of 3. Incubation starts with the first egg, and as such hatching is spread over several days. The male provides the female food during incubation. She rarely leaves the eggs unattended for more than a few minutes at a time. the young fledge before 48-50 days, sometimes not until 60-70 days. Parents care for them in the vicinity of the nest for a further 15-20 days
Visit the Chilterns, central Scotland - at Argaty, and along the Galloway Kite Trail are the best areas to find them.
|Did You Know!
Red Kites were once thought to be vermin in much the same way as pigeons are today, and by the end of the eighteenth century they had been largely exterminated. A conservation programme established by landowners brought them back from the brink of extinction.