Whistling Kite – Profile | Traits | Facts | Call | Diet | Breeding

Whistling kite

The whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus is a medium-sized diurnal raptor discovered all through Australia (together with coastal islands), New Caledonia, and far of New Guinea (excluding the central mountains and the northwest).

Whistling kite Profile

The distinctive call of the Whistling Kite is, unsurprisingly, a transparent whistle, which begins by descending down the size, adopted by an up-scale staccato chatter, given by birds as they fly overhead or when perched.

During the non-breeding season, they primarily eat carrion, however, in the course of the breeding season, they take live prey, particularly rabbits and hares, in addition to fish, reptiles, birds, small mammals, and invertebrates. They typically attend fires to catch fleeing prey, they usually might steal meals from different birds of prey.
whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus
Also referred to as the whistling eagle or whistling hawk, it’s named for its loud whistling call, which it usually offers in flight. Some authorities put this species within the genus Milvus, regardless of marked variations in behavior, voice, and plumage between this species and different members of that genus.

The Whistling Kite is a medium-sized raptor (bird of prey) with a shaggy look. It has a light brown head and underparts, with pale streaks, and darkish sandy-brown wings with paler undersides. The underwings have a characteristic pale ‘M’ form when open.

The head and body are comparatively slender and the tail is rounded. The wings are long and well-rounded, with a wingspan of 120 cm to 145 cm. The sexes are related, however, the females are bigger.

Young birds are barely darker above, with paler streaking on the head and underbody. They are sometimes seen close to water or around farms, hovering in a lazy circling flight pattern.

The Whistling Kite is widespread over mainland Australia however unusual in Tasmania, and can also be present in New Guinea, the Solomons, and New Caledonia.

whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus

The Whistling Kite is present in woodlands, open nations, and notable wetlands. It can also be common around farmland, vineyards, and wherever the place carrion (useless animals) could be discovered (e.g. abattoirs, garbage dumps, and roadsides). Prefers tall timber for nesting.

Whistling Kites soar above the ground, timber, and water to seek prey akin to carrion (useless animals) and small live animals akin to mammals, birds, fish, and insects.

The Whistling Kite seems to be monogamous, with some breeding pairs remaining in a territory all through the year and pairs actively defend the area around a nest.

The cumbersome nest platform is constructed of sticks in a tall tree and could also be reused, rising bigger over time.

Both sexes construct the nest and incubate the eggs (the feminine does many of the incubation nevertheless) and should breed two or thrice a year. The younger stick with the parents after fledging for about six to eight weeks.

Whistling kite Habitat

A species of open or flippantly wooded areas, whistling kites are usually discovered close to water, at elevations starting from sea level to 1400 meters.

Though the species as a whole is usually sedentary, some Australian birds are recognized to be nomadic, wandering to coastal areas in northern Australia in the course of the dry season; some south Australian birds migrate to the south within the autumn.

There is little proof that the species is declining domestically in southern Australia as a result of drainage of wetlands and an accompanying decline in meal supplies.

whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus

Whistling kite Description

The whistling kite ranges in size from 50–60 cm (20–24 in), with a wingspan between 123–146 cm (48–57 in). Weights range from 380–1,050 g (13–37 oz) an average of 600g-750g for males and 750g-1000g for females.

As with most raptors, females are bigger and heavier than males; although there’s appreciable overlap between the sexes, females could be as much as 21% bigger and 42% heavier. Southern birds are additionally bigger than these discovered within the tropics.

Male and feminine plumages are the same. Adult birds are pale buffs on the head, breast, and tail, with browner wings and black flight feathers. Immature birds are closely streaked reddish-brown with distinguished pale spots on the wings.

Throughout their lives, whistling kites have bone-colored legs and feet, that are unfeathered. Overall, the whistling kite seems small-headed and long-tailed, with wingtips falling effectively short of the tail tip when the bird is perched.

Though its legs are short, the bird walks simply on the ground. Whistling kites soar on barely bowed wings, with their long flight feathers usually well-splayed. The placing pattern on their underwings is distinctive.

Whistling kite Call

This is a loud species, calling often in flight and whereas perched—even whereas on the nest. Its most common call is a transparent descending whistle, usually adopted (much less usually preceded) by a fast collection of rising notes.

Intriguingly, area analysis carried out in Taunton Scientific National Park, Central Queensland by Fiona Randall from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland has proven that spotted bowerbirds (Chlamydera maculata) in that park often mimic the calls of whistling kites, with the frequency of mimicry rising because the breeding season progresses. The performance of this mimicry is unknown.

whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus

Whistling kite Diet

Whistling kites are actually catholic of their tastes, taking small mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, bugs, and carrion.

Those in Australia are inclined to take primarily live prey (besides within the winter, once they subsist largely on carrion), whereas these in New Guinea are principally scavengers.

Most meal gadgets are taken both from the ground or from the water floor, although bugs are typically hawked instantly from the air.

Whistling kites are additionally recognized to pirate meals from ibises and herons and from different raptors, and to drive giant waterbirds to regurgitate their catches.

They often patrol roads searching for roadkill, and hover over the sides of grass fires searching for potential prey fleeing the flames. When meals are scarce they may nearly fully depend on discovering carrion.


In drought intervals, the normally sedentary whistling kite will develop into nomadic to observe meal sources. Being a scavenger and consuming any type of carrion (useless meat), additionally implies that it’s more adaptable throughout drought intervals when meals are scarce.


Whistling Kites are usually discovered singly or in pairs, however typically collect in bigger teams, notably throughout nomadic actions, at roost sites, and at sources of plentiful meals.

whistling kite, scientific name Haliastur sphenurus

Whistling kite Breeding

The whistling kite’s nest is a cumbersome platform fabricated from sticks and lined with green leaves, positioned in an upright fork of a tall tree—usually a eucalypt or pine in a riparian area.

Pairs usually re-use the same nest year after year, yearly including materials till the platform turns into fairly giant. Females usually lay 2–3 bluish-white eggs, that are typically coated with reddish-brown blotches; clutches of 1–4 eggs have been recorded.

Eggs are incubated for 35–40 days, and the species is reported to have a 60% hatching success. Chicks, that are coated with cream- or buff-colored down feathers, spend 44–54 days within the nest before fledging and are depending on their parents for an additional 6–8 weeks after leaving the nest.

In Australia, the birds usually breed between June and October within the south, and between February and May within the north, although they might nest at any time after rain offering there are satisfactory meal supplies.


Some declare that whistling kites don’t defend their nests aggressively, which might make their eggs and chicks weak to giant aerial predators akin to black-breasted buzzards (Hamirostra melanosternon) and tree climbing reptiles together with Centralian carpet pythons (Morelia bredli).


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