The Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers.
The species is currently endemic to the Western Palearctic region in Europe and northwest Africa, though formerly also occurred just outside in northern Iran. It is a rare species which is resident in the milder parts of its range in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Vagrants have reached north to Finland and south to Israel and Libya.Within Britain it is mainly found in Wales with reintroduction programs having taken place also in the south of England and in the north. They can be seen all over Britain, mainly in spring as they sometimes wander across Britain.
Red Kites get from about 60-66cm in length and have a wingspan of about 1.65-1.95cm. Females are larger than Males, just like in most raptors. Red Kites are very light, more of the characteristics of a harrier than a buzzard.
They have a destinctive tail in the rouch shape of a triangle and rusty red body feathers with a light head. They're wings have a thick white bar near the end of the wing.
The Red Kite was once almost extinct in Britain due to poisoning and shooting, mainly because of farmers and gamekeepers during the victorian period, but after many years of conservation and re-introduction, the Red Kite's numbers are now on the increase and often seen by motorists as they fly over the motorways between Oxford and London. But they are still near-threatened birds, globally as well as in Britian.
The Red Kite is a scavenger. Mostly eating sheep carcasses, dead rabbits, road kill and other forms of carrion. However the Red Kite also kills live prey including mice, voles, rabbits, squirrels, birds up to the size of crow and gull. They also eat worms, beetles and other large insects.
Despite the Red Kites large size it is relatively weak, it needs to wait for foxes, buzzards or crows to come before scaring them off and eating the dead meat.
Feeding Red Kites is vey easy to do, but many people get it wrong and end up killing the bird. Click on this link to find out how to feed Red Kites feeding red kites
Red Kites usually nest in the fork of a large tree and make a large nest out of sticks, earth, moss and whatever else they could find, more unusual items include old toys and clothes. They sometimes though, just take over an old buzzards or crows nest.
There in the well hidden nest the Kite will lay 2-4 eggs, usually 1 brood from March to June. The eggs will be incubated for about a month.