Quite a puzzle

To: <>, <>
Subject: Quite a puzzle
From: Daniel Mantle <>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 15:01:00 +0100
Hi Geoffrey,

I would certainly agree with Philip on this id. Looks good for Black Kite to me:

1. Dark eye patch

2. Two-tone and rather slight bill (base of bill looks yellowish on my monitor but I wouldn't really expect too much colour on a young Black Kite but still the base of the bill is typically paler and in sharp contrast to the black tip whereas Whistling Kite never really show such a strong contrast)

3. looks like a pretty standard Black Kite tail shape to me

4. Long wings on the perched bird (almost reach tail tip whereas tail tip is much longer than wing tip on perched Whistlers)

5. Underwing pattern looks to be mostly dark - I don't think this is purely an artefact of the photography and I think we would still be seeing some of the classic Whistler underwing pattern in these shots. Black Kite underwing is somewhat variable but a nearly uniform dark underwing is fine for this species.

Cheers Dan

Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 18:13:13 +1000
Subject: [canberrabirds] Quite a puzzle

Roger Curnow and I have been trying to work out the identity of an unusual raptor.  Roger came across this a few days ago in his west/west Macgregor haunt and sent me several pics taken over 3 days (I think).  We tried to find it yesterday, but it didn’t appear.  Roger will add his own comments, but I would present the puzzle as follows.  It should be assumed that all pics of bird X are of the same bird.


Consider this one, bird X being on the right.




It looks for all the world like a Black Kite.  For comparison I have included an adult Black Kite (from elsewhere) on the left.  Lightening Roger’s original does bring up apparent juvenile plumage in bird X.


Now consider these pictures of bird X:


kite x.jpg


This is clearly a juvenile, and might look a bit more like a Whistling Kite  -  EXCEPT for the squarish – perhaps more forked – tail.  The tail is possibly in moult, but one would not expect any moult pattern to convert the rounded tail of  a WK into that configuration.  Query whether the time of year and pale tips argue against the moult theory.  Could it be that the tail is still growing out for the first time?


Below is a juvenile Whistling Kite (photographed elsewhere), presumably near the end of its first year.  The plumage pattern is similar to bird X.  However, the rounded tail is quite obvious.  Perhaps on this bird the tail is fully grown out.  Could it be a month or so older than X?


kite y.jpg


Perhaps the most likely possibility is a very young Whistling Kite.  However no other Whistling Kites have been seen in the vicinity.  Moreover the impression conveyed by the first picture above is of a fully plumaged bird.

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU