Black Kite

Scientific Name: Milvus migrans

Malay Name: Helang-Kembara Hitam

Chinese Name: 黑鸢

Range: Found from Europe, Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Indochina and discontinously to Sulawesi, Lesser Sundas, Papua New Guinea and northern Australia with the northern temperate populations wintering south to Africa, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: migrans, lineatus, govinda, formosanus, affinis.

Local Subspecies: lineatus

Size: 61-66 cm

Identification: Adult resembles juvenile Brahminy Kite but has darker overall plumage, distinctive forked tail that appears almost square-cut when broadly fanned in flight and conspicuous whitish patch on the base of primaries. Juvenile resembles adult but has prominent whitish streaks on breast and belly.

Similar looking species: Booted Eagle, Brahminy Kite

Habitat: Open country, reclaimed land, coastal habitat and forest.


Local Status: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2021)

Location: Recent sightings were at Changi, Tuas South, Punggol Barat, Central Catchment Forest, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Bulim Avenue and Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Black Kite Milvus migrans
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak weeks Jan 22-Jan 28, Dec 24-Dec 30
Early date 18 Sep 2005
Late date 19 May 1990
One of the few scarce migratory raptors which still winters almost annually in Singapore. The most recent wintering bird was at the Kranji area.


BirdLife International. (2021). Milvus migrans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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