A red kite diving (c) Steve Mackay

Red kite

The red kite is a striking bird of prey with deep red plumage, a grey head and light eyes. They are recognisable in flight by their long and narrow, black-tipped wings and deeply forked tail. They usually pair for life, building large untidy nests out of sticks in the forks of trees. When the hatchlings are young the female can signal for them to play dead when a predator is near.

Primarily a scavenger, the red kite mostly eats carrion but will also catch small mammals, birds and worms. They live in a wide range of habitats from woodlands and valleys to wetland edges and rough pastures. Red kites have suffered rapid population declines due to habitat loss, pesticide usage and persecution.

All you need to know about British birds.

Scientific name: Milvus milvus

Rank: Species

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Map showing the distribution of the Red kite taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Red kite can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Europe, Mediterranean, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Red kite distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Near Threatened

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Red kite

See all Red kite news stories

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