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Milvus migrans

warning Regionally Extinct

Contributed: Asaf Mayrose, Itay Shimshon

Black Kites are classified as Regionally Extinct (RE). Extinction occurred in the early 2000s and since then no nesting attempts were observed, despite the fact that the species is an extremely common winter visitor and passage migrant. In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Regionally Extinct (RE).
RE Current Regional Assessment | RE Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Wetland Thickets, Parks & Woodlands, Cropland, Rural Areas
Presence In Israel Winter Visitor, Migrant, Resident
Nesting In Israel Past Breeder
Migration Types Short Range / Partial
Zoography Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Formations Plains & Valleys
Vegetation Formations Forest, Trees
Vegetation Densities Low, Medium
Nest Locations Tree
Diet Types Invertebrate, Vertebrate, Carrion, Fish
Foraging Grounds Aerial, Ground
Body Sizes Medium (500 - 1000g)
Threat Factors Powerline Interactions, Pesticide Poisoning, Lead Poisoning

The Black Kite is a medium-sized bird of prey that glides and spends extensive time in the air. Its long-angled wings and long forked tail give it a “gangly” appearance. Plumage is a relatively uniform dark brown. The underside of the wing has pale panels on the inner primary feathers and the outer “finger” primaries are dark. Many individuals have grey heads and dark eye rings. Juvenile Black Kites are a bit paler and have spotted backs and heads. Black Kites are omnivorous and frequent garbage dumps and landfills. They also catch flying insects, and thus spend much of their time airborne.

A common winter visitor and passage migrant. No nesting has been observed during the past two decades. A single pair was seen in courtship display on the Mt. Hermon slopes in the summers of 1998-2000 (Ohad Hatsofe, pers. comm.). Until the mid-20th century, tens of pairs nested in Northern and Central Israel, south to Mikve Yisrael. The breeding population, like the wintering population, was decimated by pesticide poisoning during the 1950s. Nesting resumed in the 1980s, and a number of pairs (five at the most) nested in the northern Hula Valley and the Mt. Hermon slopes (Paz 1986, Shirihai 1996). The nesting sites were abandoned in the 1990s (Ohad Hatsofe, Efraim Ezov, pers. comm.), once again probably due to secondary poisoning (Mayrose and Alon 2001).

The Black Kite probably became extinct as a breeder due to secondary poisoning from agricultural pesticides. Kites are particularly susceptible to poisoning because they are omnivorous and feed on carrion, making them vulnerable to both insecticides and rodenticides.

The Black Kite has received low priority for active restoration management (Hatsofe & Mayrose 2015) for the following reasons:
Some of its extinction factors are still present.
The global population is increasing
The probability that the species will naturally return to breed in Israel is estimated to be high, because the species is expanding in Eastern Europe and the number of migrant and wintering Black Kites in Israel is continuously rising.

  • הצופה, א. ומירוז, א. 2015. תכנית אב לשימור העופות הדורסים בישראל. מסמך פנימי של רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Mendelssohn, H. 1972. The impact of pesticides on bird life in Israel. ICBP 11:75-104.
  • Mendelssohn, H. 1975. Report on the Status of Some Bird Species in Israel in 1974. I.C.B.P. 12:265-270.
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International
Contributed: Asaf Mayrose, Itay Shimshon

Current Occupancy Map

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

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