Spotlight on...Red Kite

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

What is a Red Kite?

Milvus milvus is a bird of prey and it has been successfully re-introduced (1989-1994) to England and Scotland after becoming almost extinct. The Red Kite has angled, red wings with jet-black wing-tips and white patches underneath and their wingspan is approximately 5 and a half feet. Its head is light grey, and it has a deeply forked tail which is reddish-brown. The colouring of younger birds is less pronounced and more uniform than in adults.

The Red Kite is a scavenger and an opportunistic feeder, feeding mainly on carrion but they will also feed on invertebrates and small mammals.  Their breeding season is between March and June.

Red kites are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This states that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb at birds and their young, on or near an ‘active’ nest.

Where is Red Kite?

According to our database, Red Kite is found throughout Oxfordshire and Berkshire, but particularly in the Chilterns where the reintroduction programme took place and it is estimated there could be over 1,000 breeding pairs. However, our database only includes information which people have provided us (and we have collected), so a lack of records doesn’t mean that Red Kites aren’t present in the area. All it means is that no-one has told TVERC they’ve spotted them… yet!

Have you seen any Red Kites?

If you spot any wildlife when you’re out and about, share your records and photos with TVERC. By letting TVERC know what you have seen you will help protect and improve your local environment by increasing the quality and quantity of data we hold.

Absence records are also very useful, so also let us know if you’ve been out and haven’t seen anything!

Your records can inform a variety of exciting biodiversity projects and help people make informed decisions about how to develop and manage land sustainably. We are a ‘not for profit’ organisation so rely on valuable help from skilled volunteers to improve our database.

Identification help

Red Kites are a common sight in the Chilterns area, and can be seen all year round, usually gliding effortlessly through the countryside. During the winter months, it is common for red kites to gather in large groups,  an indication that food is present.

Red Kites are easy to identify and almost unmistakable, with their forked tail and brightly patterned red colours with long wings.

They can be quite vocal, so listen to their  mew-like call (https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/red-kite/).

Find out more

Check out the links below for more information on Red Kites!

https://www.redkites.net/

https://www.chilternsaonb.org/red-kites

https://www.chilternsaonb.org/uploads/files/AboutTheChilterns/Red%20Kite...

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/birdwatching/...

Where should we direct our spotlight next?

If you are a recorder, a local recording group or just have an interest in a species, send us your suggestion for a species, along with some facts and a photo (if possible) to tverc@oxfordshire.gov.uk.