Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)


French: Milan noir German: Schwarzmilan Spanish: Milano negro

Falco migrans


, 1783,



Occasional hybridization with M. milvus reported#R#R. Several of current races frequently awarded separate species status, most notably lineatus and aegyptius (latter incorporating parasitus), but intergradation suggests probably best regarded as a single species, with several well-marked races; molecular study provisionally finds lineatus nested within migrans clade, and, although it shows that yellow-billed populations belonging to aegyptius and parasitus form a separate clade, more work is needed to help to clarify sister relationships within the group#R. Race formosanus appears barely diagnosable and may be better included in govinda. Other proposed races are tenebrosus (Ghana), subsumed within parasitus; tianshanicus (Tien Shan), included in lineatus; and arabicus (SW Arabia), synonymized with aegyptius. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. m. migrans (Boddaert, 1783) – Black Kite – Cape Verde Is, NW Africa and S & C Europe E to SW Asia (to W Pakistan); winters mainly Africa S of Sahara.
  • M. m. govinda Sykes, 1832 – E Pakistan E through India and Sri Lanka to S China (Yunnan), Indochina and Malay Peninsula.
  • M. m. formosanus Nagamichi Kuroda, 1920 – Taiwan and Hainan (S China).
  • M. m. affinis Gould, 1838 – Sulawesi, Moluccas (Buru) and Lesser Sundas (E to Timor); E New Guinea; N Australia S (in E) to Victoria.
  • M. m. lineatus (J. E. Gray, 1831) – Black-eared Kite – Ural Mts E through Siberia to Amurland and Japan, S to N India, N Myanmar and N China, and Ryukyu Is; winters S to S Iraq, S India and SE Asia.
  • M. m. aegyptius (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Yellow-billed Kite – Egypt, SW Arabia and coastal E Africa S to Kenya.
  • M. m. parasitus (Daudin, 1800) – Africa S of Sahara, Comoro Is and Madagascar.
  • Descriptive notes

    44–66 cm; male 630–928 g, female 750–1080 g; wingspan 120–153 cm. Mostly reddish brown; tail brown and only slightly forked. Juvenile generally paler... read more


    Frequently noisy, even outside nesting season. Main call a drawn-out, downslurred squeal “... read more


    Ubiquitous, occurring from semi desert, grassland and savanna to woodland, but avoids dense forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very adaptable; has become extensively commensal with humans. Feeds on wide variety of animal remains, e.g. offal from abattoirs or... read more


    Laying dates very variable, due to vast size of range: in temperate zones of Eurasia, Mar/Apr–Jun; in tropical Africa, normally in... read more


    Mainly migratory; at least, shows certain nomadic or dispersive tendency after breeding. Nominate... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. One of commonest of all diurnal raptors, and regionally the commonest, e.g. in Japan and probably in Africa. Favoured by... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Marks, J.S., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black Kite (Milvus migrans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).