Chris Watson

Birding Central Australia #27

Chris Watson

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Road scavenger par excellence

Raptors, also known as birds of prey, are birds which use their feet to attack and kill their prey. It’s a diverse group, taking in owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, harriers, and kites. The bird in the picture this week is another one which will be familiar to any Territorians who turn their eyes to the skies.

The Black Kite is an adept scavenger as well as killing its own prey like small mammals and reptiles. There are often great flocks of these birds circling over the tip and they are common around highways where they make short work of any roadkill.

Their other favoured tactic is to surf along burning fire fronts. Here, they can take advantage of the thermal updrafts and disturbance of the fire to send insects shooting upwards into their waiting talons. Their diverse and adaptable skills have made them one of the most successful raptor species in the world and today they can be found throughout Australia and right up through most of Asia.

Sightings this week: 

-          Bush Stone-curlew spotted on the Plenty Highway by eagle-eyed ambos on a late night dash to Harts Range

-          Wood Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwits appear to be the last of our migratory waders left and will soon be gone to their breeding grounds in Siberia

-          Australian Pratincole, four birds put in a brief appearance at the sewage ponds

-          Australian Bustard, Black-chinned Honeyeaters, and Chiming Wedgebills were the birding highlights of some work I did this week out along the Barkly Highway around Frewena

-          Eastern Barn Owls continue to be the most commonly reported night bird along the roads at night