Black Kite and Yellow-Billed Black Kite: what’s the difference?

The Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is a common medium-sized African raptor – a bird of prey. It is commonly found in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Black Kite has brown feathers, dark brown eyes, and a slightly forked tail. It has yellow feet with black talons (claws).

The subspecies Milvus migrans parasitus has a yellow bill, and is often called the Yellow-Billed Black Kite. It is a resident raptor, living in the region all year round.

The subspecies Milvus migrans migrans has a black beak with a yellow cere (ridge between the beak and the feathers). It is a migratory Black Kite that visits the region between October and March.

Black Kite

Yellow-Billed Black Kite (Milvus migrans parasitus), left, and Black Kite (Milvus migrans migrans), right


The Black Kites soar and glide, looking for food. They have a wingspan of about 150 centimetres (59 inches). They swoop on their prey, catching it in their sharp claws. They eat mice, rats, and small mammals.

Females and males make a nest of twigs high above the ground. Females lay 2-3 eggs, which hatch after 30-34 days. The chicks have fluffy down feathers, and get their flight feathers after 18-22 days.

Yellow-Billed Black Kite (Milvus migrans parasitus)

Yellow-Billed Black Kite (Milvus migrans parasitus)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans migrans)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans migrans)



Photographer: Martina Nicolls



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