This magnificently graceful bird of prey is unmistakable with its reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail. It was saved from national extinction by one of the world’s longest running protection programmes, and has now been successfully re-introduced to England and Scotland. It is an Amber List species because of its historical decline.
Centuries of persecution led to the Red Kite reducing to just a handful of pairs in mid-Wales by about 1900. They just survived in into the 1960’s, with an increasingly strong recovery and spread since. Two reintroductions (Scotland and the Chilterns) were successful and there has been a steady spread in to new areas. In 2011 the British population was estimated at around 1800 breeding pairs. In Gloucestershire, up to 1980 there had only been 7 20th century records. Between 1980 and 1994 there were usually fewer than 3 records per year. From 1995-2000 records rose to about 20 per year. Since 2004 there has been a steep increase, with 176 records in 2010. The majority of records are in the Cotswolds, and are a common sight along much of the Oxfordshire border. Since 2006 there have been signs of nesting, and finally in 2012 an active nest was found. It is reasonable to assume that the Red Kite will become a regular county breeder.
Size, habitat and diet
Weight: M: 1000g F: 1.2kg
World distribution: Locally throughout Europe and NW Africa
Habitat: Pasture, open woodland, forest
Diet: Scavenger on carrion, scraps, will take small live prey
Red Kites in slow motion (The Slow Mo Guys)