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Alice Springs Waste Stabilisation Ponds

The Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) has been observed at the Alice Springs Sewage Ponds. They get their name from the loud whistling call, that starts from a clear whistle, then descends down the scale, and is followed by an up-scale staccato chatter.

Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) carrying nesting material
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) carrying nesting material, Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer

A medium-sized diurnal (day time) raptor, the female are larger and heavier in build to the male. When at rest, the Whistling Kite has a scruffy appearance to its gingery-brown feathers. The adult birds having a pale buff to rufous markings on the head, neck, breast and tail, and with brown coloured wings and black flight feathers, a mix of dark and pale brown feathers, as well as a long rounded tail.

Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer

When soaring you can see their well-splayed long flight feathers. Even in the immature Whistling Kite, their underwing pattern is quite distinctive.

Immature Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Immature Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer

The juvenile Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) has beautiful patterned plumage on both it’s upperparts, breast and face.

Juvenile Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Juvenile Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer
Juvenile Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) by Dorothy Latimer
Juvenile Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer

Check out our Birds | Raptors | Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Haliastur
  • Species: Haliastur sphenurus

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