Red Kite

Species profile

Name: the red kite (Milvus milvus) is a medium-sized bird of prey with a distinctive forked tail.

Appearance: red kites are elegant birds, soaring on their long wings and using their forked tails to twist and turn. Their bodies, tails, and wings are a red-brown colour and their heads are grey.

Size: they can reach up to 70 cm long, with a wingspan of 180 cm and a weight of 1.3 kg.

Diet: red kites eat a range of food including small mammals, carrion, birds, reptiles, and even worms. In the UK there have been several unusual instances of red kites swooping down to steal sandwiches from people in the park!

Did you know: red kites have had a long and sometimes troubled relationship with humans. In England, Shakespeare’s King Lear described his daughter as a “detested kite” and wrote: “when the kite builds, look to your lesser linen” in reference to them stealing washing hung out to dry. In the 15th Century, King James II of Scotland decreed that they should be “killed wherever possible”, while they were protected in England and Wales as they kept the streets free of carrion and rotting food. Later in Tudor times “vermin laws” meant that bounties were paid out for their carcasses.

As a result of ongoing persecution, by the 20th Century, they were extinct in England and Scotland, although they clung on in parts of Wales. However, thanks to an incredibly successful reintroduction scheme in the 1990s, they are now back once again in the skies across the UK. And have even been voted “Bird of the Century” by the British Trust for Ornithology, and “Wales’s favourite bird”.

Location: red kites can be found in broadleaf woodlands, valleys, and wetland edges across Europe and northern Africa.

Where to see Red kites

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see red kites in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Brecon Beacons
Wales
100%
very high
5.0
very good
1
reports
Watlington Hill
England
100%
very high
5.0
very good
1
reports

Photo credit: TheOtherKev under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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