Red Kite Information & FAQ's

6a. Black Kite - Milvus migrans

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Black Kite
Black kites are occasionally sighted in the UK, but sometimes red kites can be mistaken for a black kite, especially if the sighting lasts only a second or two.
Red Kite

In the photo above, the black kite appears similar in colour to the red kite pictured on the right. Light conditions can influence just how bright or dull the plumage can appear to be. (Note, too, the apparant lack of a deeply forked tail on the red kite as this photo was taken). Imagine just getting a quick glance of a bird - to the casual observer it isn't always easy to determine just what bird it is that was sighted!

Superficially similar, the black kite differs from the red kite in many ways, not least its plumage, and size. These images of a black kite (taken in captivity), show the the similarities and the differences between the black and red kite.

Black kite

The black kite is usually smaller than the red kite, and it's plumage is usually darker, lacking the distinct underwing white patches of the red kite. However, occasionally the red kite can appear to have a dark plumage, depending on the light conditions when observing the kite (see above).