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Black-shouldered kite

Birds of Namibia

Introduction: Black-shouldered kites (Elanus caeruleus) occur in many habitats but are more common in grassland as opposed to being mainly absent from woodland, forest and desert. They roost in large groups in reedbeds or nearby bushes, large solitary trees, including palm trees.

Distribution: Widespread and common throughout the country. Can be observed in Etosha National Park, Caprivi Strip, Skeleton Coast, northern Namib Desert, Kalahari Desert, Orange River.

Diet: Hovers above prey before descending slowly and then suddenly dropping onto prey before taking captured animal back to perch. Eats mainly rodents, birds, doves, lizards and insects.

Description: Small kite with large head and eyes, a wide gape and a short bill. The plumage is grey and white with a square tail. The name comes from the lesser and median wing coverts which are black in colour, forming a black shoulder patch. Elanus is the Greek name for 'a kite'.

Breeding: A saucer-shaped nest made of sticks and lined with dry grass is placed as high as possible in the tree canopy depending on the species of tree. Between 2 and 6 eggs are laid between July to October, with an incubation period of around 30 days.

Size: 30cm. Weight: 250g.

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