Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Accipitridae / Milvus / Species
Milvus milvus - Red kite (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Rode Wouw (Dutch)
  • Milan royal (French)
  • Rotmilan (German)
  • Nibbio reale (Italian)
  • Milano real (Spanish)
  • Glada (Swedish)

Names for newly-hatched

Chick

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

 

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B162, B163, B164, B165, B166

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Birds of Prey

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Birds of Prey

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Aviculture Information

Notes

--
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length
  • 60-66cm (tail 28-32cm) (B162); 61-72cm (B164); 61cm (B165), 58-64cm / 22-25 ins. (B166).
  • Wingspan: 175-195cm (B162); 140-165cm (B164).
Adult weight General  
Male Milvus milvus milvus 800-1200g (B162).
Female Milvus milvus milvus 1000-1300g (B162).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Yellow with black tip, cere yellow, hooked (B165, B166).
Variations (If present)  
Eyes Male Yellow (B164, B165, B166).
Variations(If present)  
Juvenile Bill  
Eyes (Iris)  

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Legs

Adult Male Yellow (B162, B164, B165, B166).
Variations (If present)  
Juvenile  

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Head: pale rufous or whitish; throat white.
  • Dorsal (upperparts) including rump: rufous/chestnut.
  • Ventral (underparts): deep rufous/chestnut with narrow black streaking.
  • Wings: rather narrow. Upper flight feathers dark brown, with tips of primaries black, coverts chestnut. Under coverts chestnut, carpal patch black, secondaries chestnut, barred primaries base white long tips black, leading edge paler yellowish-brown.
  • Tail: Deeply forked upper side chestnut, with tips of fork black, underside pale chestnut with tips of fork black, undertail-coverts dark.

(B162, B164, B165, B166)

Variations (If present) Milvus milvus fasciicauda (Cape Verde Islands):
  • Smaller, wing rounded and shorter, tail less deeply forked.
  • Upperparts feather margins less pronounced;
  • underparts less bright rufous, shaft streaks less pronounced.
  • Tail usually 8 to 10 bars

(B162).

Juvenile
  • Ventral (underparts): rufous with yellow-buff central streaks.
  • Wings: greater coverts white-tipped.
  • Tail: undertail-coverts pale buff-brown.

(B164, B165)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Semi-altricial, helpless, downy, eyes open (B163, B166).

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year
  • March to May (B166).
  • Britain, central Europe, Baltic area: eggs laid from early April.
  • Mediterranean area: eggs laid from early March.

(B162, B166)

No. of Clutches One (B162, B163, B166).

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Nest placement and structure

  • In trees, hardwood trees preferred.
  • About 12-15 metres above ground.
  • In main fork of tree or fork of large branch.
  • Cape Verde Islands, occasionally nest on cliff ledge or crag.
  • Re-use nest from previous year.
  • Use old nests of Buzzard and Raven.
  • Pile of dead twigs.
  • Lining of grass and other vegetation, sometimes paper, plastic, rags, but not green vegetation.
  • Sheep's wool may be added about 2-3 days before laying starts.

(B162, B163, B164, B164)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 1-3 (B162, B163); 2-3 (B166).
Range 1-5 (B162, B163).
Egg description Oval, not glossy, white with variable red-brown spotting/blotching, 57mm long (B162, B163, B166).

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Incubation

31-32 days per egg; about 38 days for whole clutch (B162, B163); 28-30 days (B166).

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Hatching

Asynchronous (B163).

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Fledging

  • Variable. Usually at least 48-50 days, may be as long as 60-70 days (B162); 45-50 days (B166)
  • Affected by brood size and food availability.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults
  • Predator and scavenger.
  • High circling and soaring, also low slow flapping over ground and low gliding.
  • Descend in circles to ground or perch at distance from carcass, then walk or fly to carcass or dying animal.
  • Steep dive onto live prey, feet outstretched for grasping: usually use surprise not speed or pursuit.
  • Sometimes catch birds and insects in flight.
  • Plunder nests (e.g. of magpie).
  • Food-pirate on other birds of prey and corvids.
  • Makes use of rubbish tips.

(B162, B163, B165)

Newly-hatched Fed by parents (B163).

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Female builds nest; uses material brought by male (B163).
Incubation Female alone or mainly female (B163, B166).
Newly-hatched Fed by both parents (B163).
Juveniles

Fed for a few weeks after fledging (B163).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific
  • Usually solitary when hunting.
  • Usually single or small flocks during the day.
  • May form larger flocks for daytime loafing and more often for night-time roosting.
  • Solitary and in groups on migration.
  • Large home-range used by breeding pairs.
  • Home ranges may overlap, but immediate vicinity of nest defended.

(B162)

Inter-specific
  • Steal food from some other birds of prey and from corvids.
  • When eggs or young present defend area around nest against potential predators such as corvids.

(B162, B164).

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous.
  • May remain together from year to year.

(B163)

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Predation in Wild

Corvids and others may prey on eggs or chicks (B162).

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Activity Patterns

  • Perch with upright posture, tail hanging down.
  • Soar often and for long periods.
  • Able to hover.
  • Roost in trees at night

(B162)

Circadian Diurnal (B162).

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Natural Diet

Adults

  • Carrion, offal, fish.
  • Variety of vertebrates including mammals and birds.
  • Insects.

(B162, B163, B164, B165, B166)

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Newly-hatched

--

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Western Palearctic including Britain (Wales) and possible as far east as western border of Russia. South into Morocco.
  • Britain: Wales (130-150 pairs) (B164)

Movement

  • Northern and Central Europe population: mainly migratory, some resident.
  • Winter mainly north Mediterranean basin, some further south into Africa
  • More southerly populations: resident and dispersive.
  • British population: resident.

(B162, B163, B164, B165, B166)

Occasional and Accidental Ireland, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Malta, Armenia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Libya, Madeira, Canary Islands (B162).
Introduced

Re-introduced England and Scotland (B162, B164, B165, B166).

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Habitat

  • Forests near lakes, with fields (B165); "hill country with broad valleys and some woodland" (B165).
  • Extensive open areas with low ground cover preferred for foraging.
  • Single trees or copses used for roosting and nesting.

(B162, B164)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Milvus milvus fasciicauda (Cape Verde Islands): smaller, wing rounded and shorter, tail less deeply forked. Upperparts feather margins less pronounced, underparts less bright rufous, shaft streaks less pronounced. Tail usually 8 to 10 bars (B162).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Long-term decrease in both range and numbers, continuing in south-west and east of range, although some recovery in north-west and central Europe (B162).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 1 - Part I (Birds protected by special penalties: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds protected by special penalties at all times") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 4 (Birds which must be registered and ringed if kept in captivity: Notes on the revised schedules state "Any bird, one of whose parents or other lineal ancestor was a bird of a kind specified in the above list") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Persecution (B162, B165).

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Captive Populations

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Trade

--

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