The Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It is widespread throughout the temperate and tropical parts of the Old World (including Europe, Asia, Japan, and all of Africa except the Congo Basin and the Sahara Desert), and Australasia. The only part of this region that it is not found in is the island region between the South East Asian mainland and the Wallace Line.
European and central Asian birds (races M. m. milvus and M. m. lineatus) are migratory and winter in the tropics. Races such as the African M. m. parasiticus , the Indian M. m. govinda (which is known in its range as the Pariah Kite), and the Australasian M. m. affinis are permanent residents of their territories. In the northern winter it is common to have a resident race and a distinguishable migrant form present together in the hotter areas.
In the United Kingdom, the Black Kite occurs only as a wanderer on migration.
Black Kites will take small live prey but will also take fish and carrion when the opportunity arises.
The Black Kite is easily distinguishable from the Red Kite due to its slightly smaller size, less forked tail anddarker plumage without any rufous.
The Black Kite nests in forest trees, often close to other kites. In winter, many kites will roost together on loose colonies.
The Red Kite has been known to successfully pair with the Black Kite in captivity where both species were kept together, as well as in the wild on the Cape Verde Islands.
Recent DNA studies suggest that the yellow-billed African races of Black Kite, M. m. parasiticus and M. m. aegyptius differ significantly from Black Kites in the Eurasian-Australasian clade, and could be considered as a separate species, the Yellow-billed Kite, M. aegyptius.
However, the same study suggests that the Asian M. m. lineatus, sometimes separated as the Black-eared Kite M. lineatus, is not sufficiently distinctive to justify specific status.