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Birding Málaga


Common name Red kite
Scientific name Milvus milvus
Type Forest birds
Status Wintering

Medium-sized raptor bird (approx 66 cm or 26 in) with an also medium wingspan (ca. 170 cm or 5.5 in). Plumage of rufous tones with a darker colour striping especially in the underparts. Pale grey head and neck with darker streaks. In flight a stylized and characteristic silhouette is observed due to its forked tail. Long wings, slightly bent backwards at the end (angled) and provided with a very visible white spot. Very agile flight.


Cultivated areas

Where it lives

Forest species with preference for the piedmont or mid mountain areas near open areas, which this raptor uses as hunting grounds. It has a large range area and therefore also uses fields, farmlands and neighbourhoods of inhabited rural settlements.

How it lives

Very rare wintering species in the province, more frequent during the migratory passage. The Red Kite breeds from spring. One annual laying of 1 to 5 eggs. Nest in trees. Frequent as a breeder in the center and north of Spain and in the marshes of the Guadalquivir. It is a generalist that feeds on what is available at any time. As a hunter this kite is not very skilled, so it looks for prey which can be easily captured, such as immature, sick or small animals. Common in landfills, garbage dumps and roads, where it usually takes advantage of the animals that have been run over. This bird usually uses communal roosts to spend the night in a group.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Rare species as wintering in the province, with some specimen in the region of Antequera. In migratory passage it is more frequent to observe it in Sierra Alpujata (Mijas). In the Great Path it can be seen in stages 16 and 32. Occasionally it also frequents the vulture feeding point of Cortes de la Frontera.

Curious facts

Precisely because of its lack of specialization, the Red Kite has become a specialist in eliminating waste from the woods. Rabbits suffering from myxomatosis, run over animals or awkward fledgling birds are their favorite prey. In this way it helps to prevent the spread of diseases and to give a "nudge" to natural selection by indirectly supporting potential healthier and stronger prey that the kite is not able to capture. For this reason its ecological role is essential and the reduction of its populations due to the poison in recent years poses a huge problem for the health of the environment.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration