|Sometimes the Black Kite is unkindly dubbed the "Kimberley Seagull" because of its habit of gathering in large numbers to scavenge around an abundant food
source. Black Kites are among the very few raptor species which will gather in flocks. The Black Kite preys upon insects and small animals and birds. Extremely agile and experts at soaring, Black Kites can spend nearly all day on the wing, hawking insects out of the air and eating them as they fly.
Black Kites can often be seen at camping grounds and caravan parks, working cooperatively to tip over rubbish bins and raid them for anything edible. They are bold but wary birds, and many a traveller can offer stories of their encounters with these beautiful raptors. They are widespread throughout the northern part of the continent, and vagrant birds have been sighted in south west Western Australia but it is not believed that they breed there.
Black Kites are also called Fork-Tailed Kites, Allied Kites, Shite-Hawks and Firebirds.
Whilst common to northern Australia and many other parts of the world, Black Kites are diminishing in south east Asia and Taiwan, where conservation efforts are being made to try and bring the birds the Chinese know as "the Old Eagle" back. They are found across most of Europe, including Russia. The northern hemisphere birds are migratory and are particularly common in Spain, Turkey and Gibraltar.
Black Kites are the birds used in the twice daily Free-Flight Displays at the Eagles Heritage Raptor Wildlife Centre in Margaret River, Western Australia. Pele, the female kite pictured (on the left hand side of the photo), features in Eagles Heritage educational sessions several times a week. Her brother Cetan (at right) may be seen at Society displays and school visits around the South West.
Original Photograph by Ms Dianne Hunter