Black-winged Kite

Scientific Name: Elanus caeruleus

Malay Name: Helang-Tikus Biasa

Chinese Name: 黑翅鸢

Range: Breeds in India through southern China and continental southeast Asia till Timor. Also present in southwest Europe and Africa.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: caeruleus, vociferus, hypoleucus.

Local Subspecies: vociferus

Size: 31-35 cm

Identification: A white raptor with light grey upperparts and black shoulders. The adults have distinct red iris. The Osprey has darker greyish-brown upperparts, a distinct thick black eye stripe with longer and more slender looking wings. The White-bellied Sea Eagle is much bigger in general, with a proportionally larger looking bill, and has broader wings. Juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle is similar with its all white underparts, but has shorter and rounder looking wings.

Similar looking species: Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle

Habitat: Grasslands and open country.

Behaviour/Ecology: Frequently seen hovering when in search for prey. Nests quite visibly on trees found in open habitat. When the juveniles fledge, the adults are often observed passing food to the young mid-air.

Local Status: Uncommon resident

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Location: Sites with extensive open fields and grassland such as Tuas, Kranji, Seletar and Punggol.

Featured articles:


BirdLife International. (2019). Elanus caeruleus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Kemp, A. C., Kirwan, G. M., Marks, J. S., Motis, A. & Garcia, E. F. J. (2020). Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus), version 1.0. In del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. Sargatal, J., Christie, D. A., & de Juana, E. (Eds). Birds of the World. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

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

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