Black-shouldered Kite

Elanus axillaris

This conspicuous small raptor is mostly seen hovering over grassland or perching on the tops of dead trees or on power lines in open grassland and woodland outside the suburbs. It feeds mainly on mice, and other small mammals and grasshoppers.

The number of birds seen in any year fluctuates considerably, mainly because Black-shouldered Kites tend to congregate where their preferred food is found. Since the population of mice in the wild and on farmland fluctuates markedly, so do the numbers of this bird in the local area.

This raptor is unusual in that it is a winter breeder. Numbers are at a peak in July then at their lowest in February. A major peak in abundance was recorded in 1993 but in recent years very few of these kites have been recorded. R=82. BR= 94.