Brahminy Kite

Did you know?

Brahminy Kites have weak feet so, although they have long, sharp curved claws, they cannot take large prey. However they are expert at snatching prey in flight.

Usually silent. Drawn-out descending wail, like a bleating lamb: 'pee-ah-ah-ah'; meowing notes.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Maximum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
April to October
Clutch Size: 
1 to 2 eggs
28 days
Nestling Period: 
52 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

The Brahminy Kite is one of the medium-sized raptors (birds of prey), with a white head and breast. The rest of its body is a striking chestnut brown. The very tip of its tail is white. The wings are broad, with dark 'fingered' wing tips and the tail is short. The legs are short and not feathered, the eye is dark and the lemon yellow coloured bill is strongly hooked. It sails on level wings along shorelines and mudflats.

Similar species: 

The adult Brahminy Kite is unmistakable, though juveniles may be confused with the Whistling Kite (longer tail and distinctive underwing pattern) or light Little Eagle. First-year juveniles may also be mistaken for Ospreys, but are dark underneath rather than white.

Where does it live?

The Brahminy Kite is widespread across northern Australia, mainly along the coastline from Western Australia to northern New South Wales, and is more common in the north of its range. It is widespread throughout tropical Asia.


The Brahminy Kite is a bird of the coast, particularly mangrove swamps and estuaries. It is sometimes seen over forests and along rivers.

Seasonal movements: 

The Brahminy Kite is mostly resident and possibly locally nomadic.

What does it do?

The Brahminy Kite feeds on carrion (dead animals), insects and fish. It swoops low over water, the ground or tree tops and snatches live prey or carrion from the surface. It also steals from fish-hunting birds, snatching prey in flight. It harries or bothers other birds such as gulls, Whistling Kites, Osprey or Australian White Ibis.


The nest of the Brahminy Kite is built in living trees near water, often mangrove trees. The nest is large, made from sticks, seaweed or driftwood and lined with a variety of materials such as lichens, bones, seaweed and even paper. Both parents incubate the eggs and the young are fed bill to bill with small pieces of food .

Living with us

Brahminy Kites are secure in Australia. Being scavengers, they benefit from waste at tips, on roadsides and in harbours.

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