Raptors | Black-shouldered Kite > juvenile in flight ◦

The juvenile Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) is identified by the rusty brown plumage around the neck, nape and breast, with darker flecks. The juvenile also has a white forehead and chin. The back and wings are a mottled buff or brown, and grey, When in flight the upperside plumage is noticeably grey whilst the wings underneath are white with grey tones.

Their dark shoulder patch is a less distinctive in the immature bird, and they have a comma-shaped patch over the dark brown eyes. They have a black bill, with a horn-coloured cere (the waxy fleshy covering at the base of the upper beak).

The Black-shouldered Kite form monogamous pairs, breeding between August and January. Their courtship is an aerial display, that involves high circling flight and ritualised feeding in mid-air.

The female lays three to four eggs, that are incubated for about thirty days. The young are fully fledged within five weeks of hatching and can hunt for small prey within a week of leaving the nest. The juveniles are known to disperse far from the home territory.


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