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Red Kite

Irish: Préachán Ceirteach nó Cúr
Latin: Milvus milvus

A buoyant medium-large raptor with long wings and characteristic long deeply forked tail. Flight leisurely with constant twisting of tail and obvious white patches on the underwing. Adults have a pale head and a rufous body, tail and forewing. Juveniles show less red in their body and tail and have distinct white tips to their upper wing coverts giving a speckled paler appearance than an adult.

Likes open pasture and arable land with woods or shelterbelts for nesting. Closely associated with a wide variety of farmland practices and habitats.

The Red Kite is an opportunist scavenger and is very adaptable. Will hunt rodents (mice and rats), young birds (pigeons and crows), young rabbits and will eat insects such as worms, beetles and Crane Flies. Also eats carrion such as dead livestock, road kills and shot birds and offal. Will piratise food from crows and other birds including Kestrels.

Untidy stick nests built in the crown, lateral branches or forks of deciduous or coniferous trees. The nest is also decorated with varying amounts of rubbish such as plastic, wool, paper, clothes, bailer twine etc. 2-4 eggs laid in early April to early May. Eggs are incubated for 28-32 days and chicks leave the nest after 50-55 days.

Became extinct in Ireland in the early 19th century. Reintroduced into Wicklow in 2007. The original Welsh population has been augmented by 8 separate release programmes in England and Scotland. A number of Red Kites from the reintroduced Scottish population visit Ireland each winter, particularly immature first year birds.