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Milvus migrans

warning Regionally Extinct

Contributed: Asaf Mayrose, Itay Shimshon
Update Time: Jan. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

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 Global Assessment

Habitats Wetland Thickets, Parks & Woodlands, Cropland, Rural Areas
Presence In Israel Winter Visitor, Migrant, Resident
Breeding In Israel Bred in the past
Migration Types Short Range / Partial
Zoographical Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Types Plains & Valleys
Vegetation Types Forest
Vegetation Densities Medium, Low
Nest Locations Tree
Diet Types Invertebrate, Terrestrial Vertebrates, Carrion, Fish
Foraging Grounds Ground, Aerial
Body Sizes Medium (500 - 1000g)
Threat Factors Pesticide Poisoning, Lead Poisoning, Electrocution and collision with transmission wires

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

Current occupancy map by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
0 0 0 0 0

Distribution maps

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

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values in the current decade as determined from experts' opinion and observations from databases.

Relative Abundance 2010-2020 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
8 12 12 21 19

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Density values based primarily on the book The Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Relative Abundance 1980-1990 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
5 14 14 17 22

Occupancy 1990-2020

The map shows differences in the species breeding distribution between the 1980's breeding map and the current weighted breeding evaluation. Negative value - species previously bred in the grid and is not presently breeding; positive value - species has not previously bred in the grid and is currently breeding.

Occupancy 1990-2020
Data Missing No Change Occupancy Increase Occupancy Decrease
6 35 1 9

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020

The map shows the changes in the relative abundance of a species in each of the distribution grids between the breeding map of the 1980s and the weighted current breeding evaluation. Negative values - decline in abundance; positive values - increase in abundance; zero - no change in abundance.

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020
80 to 100 50 20 to 30 No Change 30- to 20- 50- 100- to 80- Data Missing
0 4 2 22 12 14 11 16

Red number
IUCN category
Threat Definition according to the red book
() districts
% of protected sites

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