Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)


French: Milan siffleur German: Keilschwanzweih Spanish: Milano silbador

Milvus sphenurus


, 1818,

New South Wales, Australia




Australia, New Caledonia, and New Guinea (except NW and the C mountains).

Descriptive notes

51–59 cm; 380–1100 g; wingspan 120–146 cm. Small-headed with slight crest, short legs, and rather long wings and tail. Similar to juvenile H. indus... read more


Main call a clear descending "seeeo" preceded or more frequently followed by fast... read more


Lightly wooded and open habitats, typically near or over terrestrial and marine wetlands, but also... read more

Food and feeding

Variety of small animals (but particularly rabbits) and carrion (especially in winter and in New Guinea), including mammals, birds (... read more


Season long and variable: most of dry season (austral autumn to spring) in tropics; usually late winter and spring in S, e.g. mainly Jul... read more


Partly migratory and dispersive within Australia, with longest ringing recovery 2430 km (from N to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Common to abundant on coasts, and in tropics where benefits from human activity; locally declining in S through drainage of... read more

Recommended citation

Debus, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus). 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 24 February 2020).