Alice Springs Desert Park

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A medium-sized bird of prey, the Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is an opportunistic hunters, that is more likely to scavenge as they soar and glide effortlessly on the winds in search of food.

They have been sighted catching insects on the wing and are attracted to any fires, often seen wheeling above and through the smoke, whilst keeping an eye out ahead of the fire-front for small creatures fleeing the flames.

They appear almost black from a distance, with a light brown bar on the shoulder. The plumage is a dark brown, with light brown and rufous markings, on the head, neck and underparts. They have angled wings and a distinctive forked tail, barred with darker brown. The eyes are dark brown and the bill is black with a yellow cere (area of skin around the nostrils).

Both male and female are similar. The young Black Kites are usually lighter in colour to the adults, with a comparatively shallower forked tail.

Images © Dorothy L

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  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Milvus
  • Species: M. migrans
  • Binomial name: Milvus migrans
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) - Birds of Prey Show, Alice Springs Desert Park
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) – Free-flying Birds Show, Alice Springs Desert Park

Footnote & References

  1. Black Kite, Australian Museum,
  2. Milvus migrans, Black Kite, Museums Victoria Collections,
  3. Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Society for the PReservation of Raptors (Inc),