All The Kites In Alaska And Their Calls (ID, Photos, When To Spot)

Black kite (Milvus migrans)

Kites are small birds of prey that are known for their amazing ability to fly into the wind and hover, which is known as kiting. They spend a lot of time soaring looking for prey, so looking up is a great way to spot them, even on car journeys.

There is 1 species of kite in Alaska that has been spotted and it is the Black Kite. However, Black Kites are accidental species here.

Kites can be found worldwide but are more in warmer regions. In North America, they are found mostly in southern states.

There are many types of birds of prey that can be spotted in Alaska, including owls, hawks, eagles, and vultures.

1 Type Of Kites Alaska

1. Black Kite

Black kite (Milvus migrans)

Black Kites are considered accidental species in Alaska, and according to records, they have only been spotted here once, around St. Paul Island in 2017.

Black Kites are medium to large-sized, widely distributed birds of prey that are generally dark brown in coloring. Their heads and necks are a bit on the lighter side, with some having grayish-brown streaks.

They have a dark patch behind the eye, a yellow cere (skin connecting the bill to the forehead), and a black bill (which differentiates them from the yellow-billed kite).

Their underparts are dark-brown, sometimes with some rufous (red) mixed in. Their outer wings are black with a large pale patch at their base. Their tails are short, forked, and with darker-brown barring. Their legs are yellow and their talons are black.

  • Milvus migrans
  • Length: 17 – 25 in (43 – 64 cm)
  • Weight: 22 – 38 oz (623 – 1077 g)
  • Wingspan: 47 – 60 in (119 – 152 cm)

Its current population stands at 6 Million, spanning four continents – Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. It has been seen in Alaska, which makes it a vagrant to North America.

You can find Black Kites in many different types of habitats considering how widespread they are in the world. They favor wetlands, river edges, coasts, grassland, open plains, shrubland, and woodlands.

You may be surprised to find them in cities, like the subspecies in India that are adapted to urban living. However, you won’t find them in dense forests and high mountains.

Surprisingly, they form large flocks in winter as they hunt for food, which is rare in birds of prey.

Black Kites are birds of prey so they are carnivores that hunt fish, small mammals, birds, bats, and rodents. They are also carrion (dead animals) eaters and they also scavenge around garbage.

Black Kite Call:

Nests of Black Kites are sturdy constructions made of sticks and twigs located on tree branches, cliff ledges, or buildings. Black Kites re-use these nests so they tend to add to the material and repair them over time.

The female lays two or three eggs. Both parents take turns in incubating the eggs, which may take as long as thirty-four days. The young stay in their nests for the next fifty days, until they learn to fly.

Fun Facts: Black Kites are known to flock around bushfires (in Australia), waiting to ambush the animals that are fleeing from the fires.