Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
The Black-shouldered Kite is a medium sized, 14" (35cm) bird, with a wingspan of 37" (95cm), but small, by raptor standards. It used to be named the African Black-shouldered Kite. An all grey top, with distinctive black 'shoulders'. In flight, it shows dark primary flight feathers. The face is white, with black eye-patches. Underparts are pure white. Bright yellow cere, legs and feet. Its most distinctive feature are its brilliantly coloured red eyes. Long wings protrude beyond the short, white tail.
Juvenile Black-shouldered Kites are a wasked-out brown above, with buffy breast. Its back and wings are spotted with white.
Seen singly, either hovering around 100' (30 metres) above the ground, or perched on top of an Acacia tree or on a wire. The tail is often flicked up and down, for balance. Prey are taken by swooping silently down to the ground.
The Black-shouldered Kite eats insects, grasshoppers, small birds, reptiles and rodents, particularly mice.
The Black-shouldered Kite is found all over Kenya, below 3,000 metres. It is commonly found in open savannah, grassland and cultivated areas.
Black-shouldered Kites have a fantastic courtship 'dance', in the air. One or other will fly on its back, grasping the other with its talons, then the pair cartwheel.
Photographed in Kenya's Nairobi National Park.
Keywords:african black-shouldered kite, bird, black-shouldered kite, kenya, kite, raptor, wildlife