083 Black Kite
(Milvus migrans )


48-55cm. The Black Kite is a medium-sized raptor, with slightly forked tail. Distinguished from Red Kite by dark plumage, slightly smaller size, proportionately shorter wings and tail, broader wing-tip and less forked tail, which is grey-brown above, never rufous. Dark brown with paler bases to primaries below. Upperparts dark brown with pale mid-brown panel across inner wing (same pattern as on Red Kite but darker and duller). If tail-fork not seen (or fork missing through moult, wear, or fanning of tail), possible to confuse with dark-morph Booted Eagle, but latter has light uppertail-coverts, usually white patch at base of forewing and somewhat larger head. Marsh Harrier in dark plumage separated by much less ‘fingered’ wing-tips, lack of pale primary bases below, and by head-on silhouette with raised ‘arm’ and flatter ‘hand’, not arched wings with lowered primaries.


Typical breeder in small numbers in gallery forests located mainly along large rivers (the Danube, Tisza, Dráva, Maros and Körös Rivers) and the fishponds in southern Transdanubia. A few pairs can be also establish sporadically in wooded areas in the puszta and forests in the vicinity of wetlands at medium and high elevations. Migrant. Stays in Hungary between mid-March and mid-October, but has occurred in November and occasionally overwinters.

083 Black Kite pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008