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.

Extra Facts
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.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:african black-shouldered kite, bird, black-shouldered kite, kenya, kite, raptor, wildlife

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Perched In Acacia

A Black-shouldered Kite Perched In an Acacia tree, overlooking Kenya's Nairobi National Park.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Fluffy Chest

A Black-shouldered Kite, perched, facing the camera, with fluffy chest feathers.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ In Flight

A Black-shouldered Kite in flight over Kenya's Nairobi National Park, with its wings powering down.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Balancing.

A Black-shouldered Kite, balancing on top of a dead Acacia branch, with its tail flipped up, to help balance.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Looking Over Shoulder

A Black-shouldered Kite, perched on an Acacia tree, back to camera, looking over its shoulder.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ With Fur

A Black-shouldered Kite, de-furring its prey on top of an Acacia tree, with fur flying in the breeze.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Leg Of Prey

A Black-shouldered Kite, swallowing a leg from the prey at its feet.

Black-shouldered Kite ~ Perched On Acacia

A Black-shouldered Kite, perched on top of an Acacia tree, looking forward.