Raptors | Whistling Kite > nesting | juvenile | juvenile in Alice | immature | soaring |

The Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) is a splendid sight to behold and hear when on the wing, soaring high above your head.

Whistling kites soar in search of prey, both live and dead (carrion). When soaring they can have slightly bowed wings and with their long flight feathers, often well-splayed. With their distinctive underwing colouring, they are quite easy to distinguish. They happen to also feed on the wing.

Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)

Sometimes called the Whistling Eagle or Whistling Hawk, it is named after the unique call, that is usually sounded during flight. Their call is a clear descending whistle, that is followed by a rapid series of increasing notes, especially made during their breeding season, to mark their territory and to ward other intruders off.

They have a shaggy appearance, with pale streaks, dark sandy to brown wings and with paler undersides that have distinctive pattern. They soar on slightly bowed wings, with long flight feathers that are often splayed when flying.


The images of the Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) on this page, were taken in Central Australia, Northern Territory.

Images © Dorothy L


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