Capricorn Coast Birds
   
 
 
Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Black-shouldered Kite
 
         
  Black Kite
Milvus migrans
Average size51 cm
 
     
 
 
These are a medium-sized bird of prey found over most of the Australian mainland as well as Africa, Asia and Europe, they are probably the most numerous species of raptor in the world, the temperate populations of this kite tend to be migratory while the tropical ones are resident. They are quite common here and share the same habitats as the Whistling Kite however their distinctive forked tail and dark colouring make them easy to identify.
They occupy a variety of habitats from timbered watercourses to open plains and are often seen along our country roads. Although normally seen in small groups it may form huge flocks of many thousands of birds, especially during grasshopper or mouse plagues, no other Australian bird of prey is seen in such large flocks.
Their diet includes lizards, small mammals and insects and both live and dead (carrion) prey is eaten, they are also scavengers and frequent tips in outback towns, there are always a number of them at our local landfill.
The sexes are alike and during the breeding season from June to December they nest in a bulky cup of sticks, lined with softer material, that is placed in the fork of a tree branch, the female incubates the eggs while the male provides food.
 
       
  Whistling Kite
Haliastur sphenurus
Average size 55cm
 
         
   
These are widespread over mainland Australia, but uncommon in Tasmania, they are also found in New Guinea, the Solomons and New Caledonia; they are named for their loud whistling call.
They live in woodlands and open country, particularly near creeks and wetlands, and are also common around farmland, abattoirs, rubbish dumps and roadsides, the photo was taken beside Svensen's Road in Zilzie. They have benefitted from land clearing to some extent because they avoid dense forests, however they still need remnant tall trees for nesting.
They soar above the ground, trees and water searching for prey such as small mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects. Road kill is a significant food source and it’s not unusual to disturb them as you drive around.
The sexes look alike with most breeding pairs remaining in their territory throughout the year and actively defending the area around a nest, this is a bulky platform built of sticks in a tall tree and may be reused. Both sexes build the nest and incubate the eggs and may breed two or three times a year. The young stay with the parents after fledging for about six to eight weeks.
 
 
Black-shouldered Kite
Elanus axillaris
Average size 36cm
 
     
   
These are found only  in Australia, though seen throughout  the country they are most common in the south-east and south-west corners of the mainland.
They prefer open grasslands with scattered clumps of trees and tree-lined watercourses through open country but will also hunt over coastal dunes,  drier marshland and farmland. The photo was taken on Fishing Creek Road where it passes through the wetlands but I have also photographed them along Hedlow Creek.
They are a specialist predator of rodents but their diet also includes grasshoppers, rats, small reptiles and birds.
The sexes look the same, although females are larger than males, and they mate for life.
During courtship the male feeds the female in mid-air: she will flip upside down and take food with her feet from his while both are flying. The nest is a large, untidy and shallow cup of sticks built  high in a tree or on a structure such as a bridge or power pole. Both sexes build the nest though females perform most of the care of eggs and nestlings. Young birds disperse very widely and can take up territory as far as 1,000 km from the nest site.
 
         
         
      more birds of prey