Whistling Kite

During my road trip from Sydney to Broome in Australia, I encountered a captivating sight of numerous birds soaring near the roadside. At first, I mistook them for Falcons due to their swift flight. Intrigued, I decided to take a break from driving at a rest area. As luck would have it, I witnessed a fascinating spectacle of three birds playfully chasing one another. In my excitement, I hastily reached for my camera. However, in the process, I accidentally shifted the Sony 70-200mm G Master II’s aperture ring to F45 (yes, F45 with the 2x Converter attached), causing some difficulty in achieving proper focus.

It also forced the camera into using very high ISO settings between 4000 and 5000 ISO. Despite the setback, I managed to capture some decent shots of the birds, including a particularly remarkable one featuring a face-off between a Whistling Kite and a daring Crow that had landed on the same tree! I captured these birds again at Lake Arglye, where there were many.

Photographed using

Whistling Kite

The Australian Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) is a species of raptor or bird of prey that is endemic to Australia. It is a medium-sized bird known for its distinctive whistling call, from which it gets its name. The Australian Whistling Kite has a relatively small and compact body, measuring around 50-65 centimeters (20-26 inches) in length. It has a wingspan of approximately 120-145 centimeters (47-57 inches). The plumage is predominantly brown, with lighter underparts and a pale head. The wings are long and broad, and the tail is rounded with a distinct white tip.

Whistling Kites are highly skilled aerial hunters and are known for their agility and maneuverability in flight. They primarily feed on small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, as well as reptiles, birds, insects, and carrion. They have a unique hunting technique where they soar at moderate heights and hover or glide over open areas, scanning the ground for prey. They are also known to scavenge on roadkill and take advantage of bushfires to catch fleeing prey.

The Australian Whistling Kite is found throughout mainland Australia, excluding the driest regions of the central deserts. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, open grasslands, wetlands, and coastal areas. They are particularly common near water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, and swamps, as these areas provide suitable hunting grounds.

These kites are monogamous and form long-term pair bonds. They build large stick nests in the canopy of tall trees, often near water sources. Both the male and female participate in nest construction, which includes lining the nest with green leaves. They typically lay one to three eggs, which are incubated for around 38-41 days. The chicks fledge after about 40-45 days and become independent several weeks later.

The Australian Whistling Kite is not currently considered globally threatened. However, local declines have been observed in some areas due to habitat loss, land clearing, and persecution. They are protected under Australian law and are listed as a migratory species under international agreements.

The Australian Whistling Kite is an impressive bird of prey with its distinct call and aerial hunting abilities. It plays an important ecological role by regulating populations of small mammals and contributing to the overall balance of Australia’s ecosystems.

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