BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)

 

Milan Noir

 

Black KiteThe Black Kite is a summer visitor across most of Europe - the western Europe populations spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa. In Switzerland they can be seen from about mid-March onwards, breeding adults leave at the end of July and the young birds a few weeks later, by September they are rarely seen.

 

A magnificent bird of prey with a forked tail which it uses as a rudder to steer as it floats steadily around looking for food. However it rarely takes live prey and is predominantly a scavenger feeding on edible waste and animal carcasses - it seems to be especially fond of dead fish on the margins of Swiss lakes. Hence it is usually seen slowly circling over likely spots for food. I have seen large assemblages in refuse areas if any type of edible waste is available, they will also congregate in large numbers when grass or wheat fields are being cut and insects and small mammals may be exposed.

 

 

 

It communicates by means of a far-carrying call which I have named its "long call". This starts as a piercing whistle tailing off into a rather tremulous wailing sound - quite unmistakable. This can be uttered both on the wing, either alone or when interacting with another bird,  or when perched.  It does not call regularly so the following file is a composite of three different sequences to shorten the time-line:

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The tremolo effect on the second part of the call can be clearly seen in the sonogram:

 

 

Here is another example from a bird calling more regularly near a nest - they seem to be more vocal close to their nests

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Black Kite

 

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