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Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) complete detail

Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) complete detail. Description of Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris). Classification of Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris). Habit and habitat of Black Shouldered Kite. The black shouldered kite occurs in open woodland, grassland and farmland, particularly in areas with scattered trees. This species can also be found on coastal sand dunes, particularly in the south and west of its range, and it has been reported along tree-lined watercourses and…………..
Identification of Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris). The head and underparts of the black shouldered kite are pure white. Their wings are long and pointed. Black shouldered kites usually hunt singly or in pairs. They have red eyes, with a black ‘comma’ that extends behind the eyes. They have a squared tail and a streamlined aerodynamic body. The tail is double rounded. The bill is short with a sharp, hooked tip to the upper mandible. 
Adults are a very pale grey with a white head and white underparts. Male and female black shouldered kites are similar in appearance, but young individuals can be distinguished by a streaked, rusty-brown head, back and breast, mottled grey wings with darker shoulders, and white-tipped feathers on the upper parts. Females are larger than males…………….
The breeding season is usually August to January. Nest is usually built in the fork of a large tree, between 4 and 35 meters above the ground. Both sexes are involved in building the nest, which is a large untidy shallow cup of sticks usually in the foliage near the top of trees taking about two weeks to complete the nest-building.

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Click here to view State wise list of Indian state birds (symbols) – updated

Classification

Common Name – Black Shouldered Kite

Other Name – Australian black-shouldered kite

Zoological Name – Elanus axillaris

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Aves

Order – Accipitriformes

Family – Accipitridae

Genus – Elanus

Conservational Status – Schedule – IV,  According to Wildlife Act 1972 and classified as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN.

Distinctive Identification

 Size between 35 cm. to 40 cm. Weigh between 260 to 300 g. and have a wingspan of 80-95 cm.

The head and underparts of the black shouldered kite are pure white. Their wings are long and pointed. The wings are white underneath, with black wing. The legs and feet are yellow, and the feet have three toes facing forwards and one toe facing backwards.

They have red eyes, with a black ‘comma’ that extends behind the eyes. They have a squared tail and a streamlined aerodynamic body. The tail is double rounded.

The bill is short with a sharp, hooked tip to the upper mandible. Adults are a very pale grey with a white head and white underparts.

Male and female black shouldered kites are similar in appearance, but young individuals can be distinguished by a streaked, rusty-brown head, back and breast, mottled grey wings with darker shoulders, and white-tipped feathers on the upper parts. Females are larger than males.

Distribution

The Black shouldered Kite is found in treed grasslands and on farms, along roads, and in vacant waste lands of urban and coastal areas.

The Black shouldered Kite also found in timbered country, they are mainly birds of the grasslands. European occupation of Australia has, on the whole, benefited them by clearing vast expanses of forest for agriculture and providing suitable conditions for much larger numbers of mice.

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Habit and habitat

The black shouldered kite occurs in open woodland, grassland and farmland, particularly in areas with scattered trees. This species can also be found on coastal sand dunes, particularly in the south and west of its range, and it has been reported along tree-lined watercourses and even on urban waste ground.

Black shouldered kites usually hunt singly or in pairs. They feed on rats, small reptiles, birds, large insects, grasshoppers, small mammals and other mouse-sized mammals account for over 90% of their diet. They usually hunt early morning and late afternoon, but may take advantage of opportunities at any time of the day.

The breeding season is usually August to January. The black shouldered kite’s nest is usually built in the fork of a large tree, between 4 and 35 meters above the ground. Both sexes are involved in building the nest, which is a large untidy shallow cup of sticks usually in the foliage near the top of trees, taking about two weeks to complete the nest-building.

Click here to view State wise list of Indian state animals (symbols) – updated

The female lays 3-4 eggs. The eggs are dull white with red-brown blotches. The incubation period is about 30 – 34 days. The female takes care of the eggs and the hatchlings with the occasional assistance of the male.

When the eggs hatch the chicks are helpless but have soft down covering their body. For the first two weeks or so the female broods the chicks constantly, both day and night. The female does no hunting at all for the first three weeks after hatching, but calls to the male from the nest, and he generally responds by bringing food. The male will do most of the hunting and takes prey to the nest for both the female and the young.

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