Black Eared Kite    Milvus migrans lineatus

Etymology :

  • Milvus : Latin word for Kite
  • Migrans: Latin word for migrate derived from  migrare to migrate.
  • Lineatus : Latin word marked with lines

 Vernacular Names : Mar: Hiravi ghar

Distribution in India: Resident of Central and west India.  Summer Visitor in Himalayas

Description:  Size of 61-66 Cm. Larger than its cousin, the Black Kite .It is dark brown with a larger prominent white crescent shaped patch in the under wing. It has a distinct forked tail. The gape and Cere are yellow and the beak is Black. No distinct sexual dimorphism but Female are larger .They have a Wing Span of 160 cm.

Habitat: It is found in open country, mountains, around water and habitation.

Food Habits: It is a meat eater. It is an opportunistic hunter, relying mainly on scavenging in Garbage dumps and carcass dumps. They can be seen riding the Thermals over these areas to keep looking for food .They are seen in large numbers. They are also known to hunt small rodents and raid nests of other birds like Baya for eggs or chicks.

Breeding Habits: They breed in the winter months (Jan- Feb) so that the chicks are ready to fly out by monsoon. The male and female pair for a breeding season. The male copulates with the female multiple times.  The nest is a rough platform of twigs and rags placed in a tree. Nest sites may be reused in subsequent years. The Nest is decorated with shiny / bright material to indicate that it has been taken. The male collects the material for the nest, while the unguarded female can be approached by other males. Hence the paired male will copulate with female every time it returns back to its nest till the female is ready to lay eggs.  They lay 2-3 eggs. The Female does the incubation while male is on guard and feeding duty. The parents will protect their nest with aggressive behaviour and will dive on any intruder repeatedly to drive them away. The incubation is for 30-34 days. The chicks are born with closed eyes and little down feathers (Altricial). They leave the nest in about 60 days from hatching .They are fed by parents till they leave the nest.  The juveniles become Sub-adults and are ready to breed in 2 years.