Kites are part of the Accipitridae family of birds, the Accipitridae also including other birds of prey like eagles and harriers. Acciptradae is one of the families within the Falconiformes order, the Falconiformes themselves being diurnal birds of prey, in other words, hunting birds who are active during the day. Some of the particularly interesting species of kite are featured below.
The Red Kite feeds chiefly on the smaller
birds, mice, reptiles, and fish. In the capture of fish the Kite is almost
as expert as the osprey, darting from a great height into the water, and
bearing off the fish in its claws. The wings of this bird are very long
and powerful, and bear it through the air in a peculiarly graceful flight.
It is, indeed, in consequence of this flight that it has been called
the Glede, the word being derived from its gliding movements.
The sight of this bird is remarkably keen
and piercing, and, from the vast elevation to which it soars when in search
of food, it is able to survey the face of the country beneath, and to detect
partridge, quail, chicken, or other creature which will serve it for food.
Should the Kite suspect danger when forced to leave its nest, it escapes
by darting rapidly into the air, and soaring at a vast height above the
trees among which its home is made. From that elevation it can act as a
sentinel, and will not come down again until it is assured of safety.
The Black Kite is a smaller bird than
the Red Kite, and can also be distinguished by its overall darker plumage
and its tail which is less forked in shape. The Black Kite especially
prefers the neighborhood of valleys. It does not appear to attack poultry,
among whom it may often be seen feeding on garbage. It is very sociable,
and the slaughter of a sheep in an area where the birds prevail will soon
attract a large party of black kites, which swoop down regardless of man,
and enjoy a noisy scramble for the refuse, chasing each other in a laughable
fashion, and sometimes enabling the wily raven to steal off with the coveted
morsel during their contentions. It is the butt of all the smaller scavengers,
and is evidently most unpopular with the crows and daws, and even rollers,
who enjoy the amusement of teasing it in their tumbling flight, which is
a manoeuvre most perplexing to the kite.
The Black Kite, unlike the red species,
is very careless about the position of its nest, and never even attempts
to conceal it, sometimes building it in a tree, sometimes on a rock ledge,
and sometimes in a bush growing on the rocks. It seems, indeed desirous
of making the nest as conspicuous as possible, and hangs it all over with
bits of cloth, strips of bark, wings of birds, and even the cast skins
Another species is sometimes called
the Black Kite from the dark hue of its plumage, but ought rather to retain
the title of Egyptian Kite. Unlike the black kite, this bird is a great
thief, and makes as much havoc among poultry as the red kite. It is also
a robber of other birds, and if it should happen to see a weaker bird with
food, it is sure to attack and rob it. Like the black kite, it is fond
of the society of man. It has been known to haunt villages in East
Asia in great numbers, for the purpose of eating offal which may be flung
into the streets