Black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus)

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The black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus), also known as the black-shouldered kite (not to be confused with the closely related Australian species with the same name), is a small diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae best known for its habit of hovering over open grasslands in the manner of the much smaller kestrels.

There are three subspecies:

  • E. c. caeruleus (Desfontaines, 1789) – southwest Iberian Peninsula, Africa, southwest Arabia
  • E. c. vociferus (Latham, 1790) – Pakistan to east China, Malay Peninsula and Indochina. The underwing secondaries are smoky grey and nearly white in the nominate subspecies.
  • E. c. hypoleucus Gould, 1859 – Greater and Lesser Sunda Islands, the Philippines, Sulawesi and New Guinea

This long-winged raptor is predominantly grey or white with black shoulder patches, wing tips and eye stripe. The long falcon-like wings extend beyond the tail when the bird is perched. In flight, the short and square tail is visible and it is not forked as in the typical kites of the genus Milvus.

The black-winged kite is a species primarily of open land and semi-deserts in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia, but it has a foothold within Europe in Spain and Portugal.

In the Danube Delta – Romania only one observation , near the Black Sea cost in 2022.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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