restricted access Kites and harrier-hawk
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Black Kite L: 61 cm (24") |WS: 130–155 cm (51–61") Kites are larger than falcons, but smaller than eagles . The Black Kite has long wings and a broad tail that spreads to a wide fan shape but looks forked when closed . It is all-brown (rather than black as its name would imply) with a distinctive yellow bill, and flies slowly, giving the impression that it is dangling in the air – and when banking characteristically twists its tail in the opposite direction to maintain balance . The African race of this very widespread Old World species is often called the Yellow-billed Kite, and is an abundant breeding migrant to Kruger between July and March, where it is found in most habitats . Much rarer in Kruger is the race that migrates from Eurasia, which differs in having a greyer head, more streaked body, squarer tail and black bill . The Black Kite will prey on almost anything, including carrion and road kills, and, if you are not careful, your lunch at one of the picnic stops, with surprisingly fast and powerful stoops . They habitually attend fires, foraging on hapless insects and other small prey that attempt to flee their impending doom . Black-shouldered Kite L: 30–35 cm (12–14") |WS: 82–94 cm (32–37") A small powder-grey kite with a white tail, underparts and face, striking red eye, and black shoulders and flight feathers . Immatures are browner than adults, with a scalloped brown back and tawny chest . It is often seen perched up, or characteristically ‘frozen’ in hovering flight, looking down for prey . The much browner and longer-winged Rock Kestrel (page 196) is the only other small bird of prey to hover . The Blackshouldered Kite is an uncommon breeding species in Kruger, favouring open grassland where it hunts for insects and small vertebrates; numbers increase in years of rodent irruptions . Kites and harrier-hawk 200 African Harrier-Hawk L: 66 cm (26") |WS: 140 cm (55") A large, naked-faced grey hawk . The adult is superficially similar to a chanting-goshawk (page 199), but has a unique shape, with a long, angular head and broad wings, and a characteristically floppy flight between glides . The small bare yellow face (sometimes flushed red), white-banded black tail and underwing pattern are further diagnostic features . The immature is blotchy brown and eagle-like but has distinctive yellow-green facial skin and barred flight feathers . Although this species is a fairly common resident in Kruger, numbers do fluctuate from year to year . Harrier-hawks specialize in feeding on eggs and nestlings, although they will also take small vertebrates and insects . Their unique doublejointed ankle can bend backwards, allowing them access to nest holes and confined spaces, and they are often seen clambering around clumsily, wings half open, on cliffs and in trees when searching for prey, especially targetting weaver colonies . BIRDS OF PREY AND VULTURES black kite black-shouldered kite african harrier-hawk immature adult 201 ...