Black-winged Kite

Black-winged kites (Elanus caeruleus) small birds of prey in the family Accipitridae. They are the most widely spread kites of the subfamily, Elaninae, with other members, such as the black-shouldered kite, white-tailed kite, and scissor-tailed kite, being endemic to different regions of the world.

This kite is overall grey with long wings that extend beyond the tail when perched. In flight, the top of their wings contain black “shoulderpads”, while on the underside, the outer and rear feathers are block instead. The sexes are fairly similar.

They prefer open territory including marshes, grass, and farmland in tropical Southeast Asia, India, and southern Africa. Rather interestingly, they hunt by hovering over their preferred area before then “divebombing” their prey, which is the same hunting strategy as kestrels. However, they cannot actually support themselves while hovering, and so require to be facing a somewhat strong wind in order to successfully hover and hunt.

These birds are not terribly common in Hong Kong, with only sporadic sightings occurring throughout the year in more open areas. However, they are becoming slightly more common in recent years. They are not migratory, but individuals will move opportunistically for food around fairly large areas.