Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Red Kite

The toy kite is named after the bird (not the other way round).

Distinctive forked tail in flight. Long angled wings (wingspan ~6ft), can stay in air long time, with minimal beats of the wing, especially when soaring in thermals. Very manoeuvrable in the air.

Relatively short legs & weak feet. Eat a lot of carrion - gives reputation of killing large animals - in practice largest prey is young rabbits.

Patterning is extremely uniform, making individuals difficult to identify.

Legally protected during the early middle-ages, because of it would clear human refuse from around towns & cities. Declared vermin (possibly due to also preying on domestic fowl), by UK Government acts in 16th century, & decision made to kill all of them throughout England & Wales. By late 18th century, all had been killed in England (also Scotland), & few pairs survived in Mid-Wales (Twyi & Cothi valleys). In the late 19th century, J.H.Salter, a professor of Botany at Aberystwyth University & a group of landowners & individuals set up an unofficial protection programme, which over a hundred years, maintained the small population. The low point of the population in the UK was between 1931 & 1935, where only two of the eleven pairs in Wales successfully bred. In 1997 the estimated world population was around 20,000 breeding pairs, with 230 pairs being in Great Britain (the majority - 145 - in Wales). Currently there are around 200 breeding pairs in Wales. There is a release program to various sites in England - the kites usually are from Spain or Sweden. Red Kites are mainly under threat from illegal killing, both by shooting & poisoning, & from egg-collectors. The Red Kite is a species protected by special penalties in the UK, if kept in captivity, it must be ringed & registered.

Rarely land - make rapid descents & snatch food whilst still flying. The are able to transfer the food to their beaks & eat in flight. Some may snatch food from crows & ravens in mid-air.

Longevity : oldest known (ringed) wild bird - 25yrs 8mnths

IUCN Red List Status :

Least Concern (LC)

Also Called :

Glead Hawk
Greedy Gled
Fork-Tailed Gled
Salmon-Tailed Gled
Crotch tail
Fork tail
Forky-tailed Kite
Red Gled (Gled being Gaelic for Hawk or Kite, perhaps from "gliding")
Bleria Pyttel (Old English for "Bald Hawk", also used for Osprey)
Puttock (also used for Buzzard & Marsh Harrier, possibly derived from Pyttel, Puttock is often used to refer to a greedy person) )
Boda wennol (Swallow Buzzard).
Boda coch (Red Buzzard).
Boda chwiw
Barcud, Barcut, Barcuta, Barcutan, Barcutÿn (the first syllable "Bar" derives from Berÿ, the welsh word for bird of prey, the second syllable "cud" or "cut", derives from the Old English "cyta" (kite). In North Wales Barcud can refer to the Common Buzzard)
Cúr rua
Préachán na gcearc (Hen Crow)
Éan fionn (Fair Bird)
Catalan Milà reial
Danish Rød glente
Dutch Rode wouw
Esperanto Ru^ga milvo
Estonian Puna-harksaba
Finnish Isohaarahaukka
French Milan Royal
Greek Ψαλιδιάρης
Hungarian Vörös kánya
Icelandic Svölugleða
Italian Nibbio reale
Latvian Sarkanā Klija
Lithuanian Rudasis Peslys
Norwegian Glente
Kania rdzawa
Kania ruda
Portuguese Milhano
Romanian Gaie Roşie
Russian Красный Коршун (Krasny Korshun)
Spanish Milano real
Swedish Röd glada

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