Lifespan: Up to 24 years
Weight: Up to 800g
Wingspan: Up to 140cm
Status: Least concern
Black kites are the most abundant species of raptor in the world and can be found throughout the Australian mainland, as well as in Africa, Asia and Europe.
While most commonly seen in small groups, Black kites can congregate in flocks consisting of thousands of birds, and are the only raptor species known to fly in groups of this size.
These birds can be found in a variety of habitats, from bushland forests to open plains. They are also known to congregate near bushfires and feed on fleeing prey such as insects and small mammals, and have even been seen carrying smouldering sticks from one location to another to start new fires and entice more prey into the open.
While their plumage is actually brown, it can appear black from a distance, especially when large flocks assemble.
Black kites prey includes insects (especially grasshoppers during plagues), small mammals, and reptiles such as lizards.
They eat their prey mid-flight, also known as ‘feeding on the wing’, by directly transferring food from their talons to beaks without landing. This allows them to eat quickly, which is important when flying in a group of thousands of other hungry birds.