Red Kites are 60 to 70 cm long with a 175-179 cm (69-70 in) wingspan. Males weigh 800-1,200 g, and females 1,000-1,300 g. It is an elegant bird, soaring on long wings held at a dihedral, and long forked tail, twisting as it changes direction. The body, upper tail and wing coverts are rufous. The white primary flight feathers contrast with the black wing tips and dark secondaries. Apart from the weight difference, the sexes are similar, but juveniles have a buff breast and belly.

Habitat and Distribution

The species is currently endemic to the Western Palearctic region in Europe and northwest Africa, though formerly also occurred just outside in northern Iran. It is resident in western Europe and northwest Africa, but birds from northeastern and central Europe winter further south and west, reaching south to Turkey. Red Kites inhabit broadleaf woodlands, valleys and wetland edges, to 800 metres.


The diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, young hares and rabbits. It feeds on a wide variety of carrion. Live birds are also taken, and reptiles and amphibians. Earthworms are eaten in spring.


Each nesting territory can contain up to five nest sites. Both male and female birds build the nest on a main fork or a limb high in a tree, 12-20 metres above the ground. The nest is made of twigs and lined with grass or other vegetation and sheep?s wool.

Calls and Songs

Its call is a thin piping sound, similar to but less mewling than the Common Buzzard.