Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) Peneireiro-cinzento

One of my favourite species, Black-winged Kites are a relatively new addition to Europe having spread north from Morocco within living memory. Although still uncommon, there are plenty of them about and on certain days they seem abundant, though their numbers seem to fluctuate wildly. During the last 25 years there was one complete season at the beginning of this century when I failed to come across a single individual, while another year saw me registering 18 different individuals on a single day, and on another occasion 9 hunting the same field.

Within Europe their stronghold remains the south-western quarter of the Iberian Peninsula, but they continue to spread northwards and in October 2011 I saw one hunting among the northern foothills of the Pyrenees.

Their food is normally reptiles and insects though they will take birds, noticeably Corn Buntings. Their hunting strategy is to either sit and scan from an exposed perch or to hover, which they do with their wings above the horizontal and their bodies at a 30º angle, in stark contrast to the horizontal hover of a Common Kestrel or the "short hover and swoop-on" of the Lesser Kestrel. Their preferred habitat is open grassland with scattered trees or perches.

Birding in Portugal

Quinta do Barranco da Estrada
7665-880 Santa Clara a Velha

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