Territorial Black-winged Kites

CHE vs BWK FYAP

Changeable Hawk Eagle defending itself against a much smaller Black-winged Kite.                       Photo: Francis Yap.

Our common Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) is the sub species of the larger Elanus genus of Black-shouldered Kite (E. axillaris). It ranges widely from across Eurasia to the Indian Sub-continent, Asia to the Greater Sundas. They were listed as winter visitors in our past records but no migration was observed. The vast open landscape at that time may have helped them to stay. They are mainly found hunting over open grasslands and nest on remote Acacia tree here. They may be small in size but they are aggressive towards other raptors that encroached into their territory. It helped to have a fierce looking face too.

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Looking fierce head on                                                Attacking a Common Buzzard from the top

Several pairs may be co-existing close to each other using the tall Casuarina trees as lookout perches. They will fly around looking for prey like lizards on the ground or indulge in some aerial mock fights.  But as soon as a low flying raptor comes into their territory, the mobbing begins. Size does not matter to these kites. We have seen them chasing away larger raptors like the Changeable Hawk Eagles and in this case the migratory Common Buzzard.

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Closing in on to a Common Buzzard. 

They adopt the House Crow’s tactics using numeral advantage to harass the intruders. The attack starts from the top, diving down to the point of contact before peeling off with their talons out stretched. A second kite will repeat the same action giving the intruder no chance to defend itself.  Ironically they receive the same treatment when the House Crows try to steal their chicks from the nests.

Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng. 2009. Wikipedia: Black Shouldered Kite.

 

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