What are Red Kites?

In a word red kites are amazing. They are beautiful birds of prey with an incredible forked tail, red colouring and a wingspan of nearly 2 metres (~5.5 feet). But don’t be concerned – despite their size red kites are harmless and spend most of their time eating small mammals (like mice and rats) or earthworms and picking up dead animals from the countryside such as road kill. Their scavenging nature makes them one of nature’s great garbage cleaners, something mankind used to celebrate when they cleaned up our cities before modern rubbish disposal - look out for the references to kites in Shakespeare’s plays!

Unfortunately, mankind hasn’t always celebrated the red kite and from the 18th century right up into the late 20th century they were hunted and killed as they were viewed as a threat to farming and game-shooting interests. This led to red kites becoming extinct in England and Scotland, with less than 10 pairs remaining in Wales in the 1940s. However, since then red kites have been successfully reintroduced to 10 sites around the UK (in 1989 on the Black Isle in North Scotland) – one of nature conservation’s greatest success stories! With “blogging birds” we can now start to learn about the lives of these reintroduced birds and find out how they recolonise a landscape that has been kite-free for well over a century.

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'Red Kite by Suzan - S3’