Red Kite Feeding Habits

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Unusual Images of Red Kites Feeding

Red Kites are scavengers, drifting around on their long, buoyant, wings looking for food items on the ground. They do not have the strength or power associated with some bird of prey species, which rely primarily on their hunting skills for survival. Although they are capable of taking small live items such as mice and voles, kites mainly rely on carrion – things which are already dead – as their basic food supply. They are quite often reluctant to land, snatching up their food from the ground and either feeding on the wing or taking it into a tree, to feed on whilst perched. If the food item is too large to carry off, they may land on the ground – but they are very wary and will generally wait until crows have fed on it first, as though making sure that it’s not a trap!

Red Kite feeding on wing Harewood Yorkshire

Image by Clare Scott at Harewood Yorkshire

Surveys have shown that, as might be expected, rabbit and hare form a significant part of their diet. If carrion isn’t available, they’ll look for other food sources. Agricultural operations, such as ploughing and the harvesting of various crops, can provide a ready source of food such as earthworms and small mammals – as well as the spectacle of numbers of kites wheeling around above the fields.