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Status and Distribution

Released Kite Released Kite (c) John Griffin
  • Distribution : Found throughout Europe east as far as the Ukraine. North to Sweden and South to Morocco.
  • World Population : 18,000-24,000 pairs
  • Global Status : Near threatened
  • EU Status : Annex 1 of Birds Directive
  • Extinct : Ireland
  • Reintroduced : Scotland (1989-present), England (1989-present)

The Red Kite is endemic to the western Palearctic, with the European population of 19,000-25,000 pairs encompassing 95% of its global breeding range. It breeds from Spain and Portugal east through central Europe to Ukraine, north to southern Sweden, Latvia and the UK, and south to southern Italy. Populations also breed in northern Morocco. Populations winter within the western breeding range, as well as in isolated patches southeast to Eastern Turkey and south to Northern Tunisia and Algeria.

The three largest populations (in Germany, France and Spain, which together hold more than 75% of the global population) all declined during 1990-2000, and overall the species declined by almost 20% over that ten year period. German populations declined by 25-30% between 1991 and 1997, but have remained stable since then, with the populations of the northern foothills of the Harz Mountains (the most densely populated part of its range) suffering an estimated 50% decline from 1991-2001. In Spain the species showed an overall decline in breeding population of up to 43% for the period 1994 to 2001-02, and surveys of wintering birds in 2003-04 suggest a similarly large decline in core wintering areas. The Balearic Islands population has declined from 41-47 breeding pairs in 1993 to just 10 in 2003. In France, breeding populations have decreased in the Northeast, but seem to be stable in Southwest and central France and Corsica. Detailed monitoring has not been carried out, but a comparison between counts in 1980 and 2000 suggest a decrease of up to 80% in some areas, during which time the species’ range in France decreased by 15%

However, populations elsewhere are stable or undergoing increases. In Sweden the species has increased from 30-50 pairs in the 1970s to 1,200 breeding pairs in 2003. In Wales in 2006, there were an estimated 500-600 pairs of kites, an estimate of over 385 pairs in England in 2005 and at least 85 pairs in Scotland in 2006 (Boda Wennol Issue 19). In Switzerland, populations increased during the 1990s, and have now stabilised. (BirdLife International 2005)