ID Help - Square-tailed Black Kite?

To: 'Harry Nyström' <>, <>
Subject: ID Help - Square-tailed Black Kite?
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 15:00:16 +1100

My ISP has crashed this morning and I have been trying to send this. I hope
my message doesn't come through many times (each slightly improved on the

Absolutely not a Square-tailed Kite (not even remotely close, on many
features) and nearly as clearly, not a Black Kite. The observer was probably
seeing lots of Black Kites there, so it certainly correct to state that this
one is different to them (more by shape and behaviour than what just shows
on a photo). The curious (and instructive for future thought) mistake was
then in only considering one other very different species, in the mix of
"possibilities". Making a wrong assumption on maybe just the name, or simply
not looking at a different page in a field guide book. 

As unanimously agreed, it is a certainly a Little Eagle. Yes it has a square
tail, which is one of the clearest features of a Little Eagle but the square
tail is way too short for either Kite. All the other features available
clearly and only fit the Little Eagle. 

For what it is worth, in spite of the similarity of names (including that
years ago the Black Kite was called Fork-tailed Kite, the Square-tailed Kite
is very different in appearance and behaviour from a Black Kite.


-----Original Message-----From: 
 On Behalf Of Harry Nyström
Sent: Thursday, 21 March 2013 1:13 AM   To: 
Subject: ID Help - Square-tailed Black Kite?

Hello again from Finland,

I would like to get a quick confirmation to a bird ID matter. The bird in
question was photographed near Forbes, NSW in January, 2012 by my colleague

He was showing me some photos when we came across with this one he titled a
Square-tailed Kite. I was immediately hit with the impression that the bird
has too short wings and its face and fingers are too dark for a
Square-tailed Kite, although the tail is not clearly notched. I said to him
that I think it is a Black Kite, but he insists otherwise, so we would like
someone local with experience to both species to settle the score.

My question is: Is this only a Black Kite that is moulting it's tail (a so
called "square-tailed" Black Kite) or is this really a Square-tailed Kite? I
noticed that the middle feathers of the tail are very worn (pointy and
long), but the outermost tail feathers seem fresh (shorter, but with a
smooth round tip), which could support my initial reaction to the bird. But
then again, I am happy to admit being wrong if that's the case.

Opinions are well appreciated:



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