Up to 60 black kites have been spotted at the Bonnick Rd refuse tip.
Up to 60 black kites have been spotted at the Bonnick Rd refuse tip. Tanya Easterby

Western drought conditions push kites to coast

THERE have been a number of recent reports of an unusual avian visitor to the area.

Sightings of up to 60 black kites, most noticeably at the Bonnick Rd refuse station, are perhaps an indication of severe drought conditions in the western parts of the state.

Black kites are rarely seen in this part of the world, being much more a bird of the more open western areas where, as scavengers, they are most often seen around town dumps.

It seems logical that if they come towards the coast then dumps would be a stopping point as the easiest place to find food.

Black kites predate on small mammals, particularly outbreaks of rodents, birds, nestlings, reptiles and insects, especially locust plagues.

Australia has five similar kite species all with a wingspan of about 1.2m.

The black or formerly fork-tailed kite will form feeding groups around refuse or carrion, the birds acting a bit like the overseas vultures with many birds in slow wheeling groups known as companies. A bit unusually for raptors (birds of prey), both male and female are about the same size.

The species can breed up numbers very rapidly when food is plentiful by breeding at any time of the year in warmer areas.

The black kite is widespread and also occurs commonly throughout India and Africa.

Nests are large bowl shaped, made of thick to gradually finer sticks and often lined with wool or kangaroo fur.

The species is not averse to appropriating nests of smaller raptors or even crows and simply make it more comfortable with a fur lining. For those fortunate enough to see these birds, it is an interesting and unusual sighting.

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