Raptors | Black-shouldered Kite > juvenile in flight

The Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris), is also known as the Australian Black-shouldered Kite, and is a common small raptor found throughout mainland Australia, usually in open habitats. They have been also sighted in northern Tasmania and some of the Bass Strait islands.

They are often seen over grasslands and agricultural regions. Some seasons, you can see large number of Black-shouldered Kites descend on a region, especially during periods of mice plagues, that can form a major part of their diet. They also eat locusts and grasshoppers. They seem to prefer to hunt during the early morning and late afternoon, often seen hovering with its wings held upright in a V-shape, before dropping down to grab the prey in its talons. The prey is then either eaten on the fly or on a high perch.

Images © Dorothy L

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Elanus
  • Species: E. axillaris
  • Binomial name: Elanus axillaris