Milvus Migrans is more compact in shape than a Red Kite and is a duller, darker brown, lacking the red colours and the obvious white wing panels. Indeed, it is more likely to be mistaken for a female Marsh Harrier or a dark morph Booted Eagle but has more angular wings which it holds level or slightly drooping. Also, the tail of a kite always looks obviously pointed at its corners and the upperwing has distinctive pale panels across the coverts.

European birds winter south of the Sahara in tropical Africa. Western birds migrate mainly through Gibraltar, whilst eastern birds pass through the Bosporus in Turkey and Sinai in Egypt.

The migratory habits of the black kite are complex, but generally the populations at higher northern latitudes migrate southwards over winter, while those nearer the equator remain in the same area year round. This typically involves European populations moving south into sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, whilst populations north of Pakistan and the Himalayas travel into south Asia. Although populations closer to the equator, such as India, Australia, and central and southern Africa, tend to be sedentary, some do make small migrations in association with the seasons as well as in response to food supply and rainfall

The hugely diverse range of food consumed by black kites varies from region to region and across the seasons. All types of carrion form an important part of this species’ diet, but a notable variety of live prey, such as insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals, are also taken by this agile raptor. In urban environments, black kites are known to forage on human food scraps and garbage, and daringly steal food from market stalls and even people Flocks of black kites are also commonly seen gathering around bush fires to pick off the hapless animals feeing the flames.

The black kite is an extremely gregarious species, particularly when feeding or roosting, with several thousand birds sometimes coming together in one area. Some pairs may breed solitarily but usually loose groups are formed, as is commonly seen in urban areas where nests may be made only a few metres apart. Aside from high circling, slow flapping and diving, the aerial displays during courtship are fairly limited but occasionally a pair will interlock talons in mid-air. The nests are built on tree branches, cliff ledges, pylons or buildings and are made from sticks and twigs lined with softer material, often comprised of rags and plastic.

Given its immense range it is no surprise that the black kite occupies a wide variety of natural and artificial habitats from wetlands, river edges, savannah and woodland, to villages, towns and even big cities. Dense forest, pure deserts and high mountains are essentially the only habitats in which this species does not normally ocur.

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