23 Apr 2012

Black-winged Kite – Dhahran Hills

The Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) is still present in Dhahran and has now been present for almost a month. It tends to use the same stand of trees for sitting on each day and hunts mainly over the spray fields looking for birds and rodents. This bird  is of the eastern sub-species Elanus caeruleus  as it had very dark under-wing markings on the secondaries unlike the more western race Elanus caeruleus caeruleus. This is the first record of this sub-species for Saudi Arabia and shows it comes from Pakistan or eastwards. In Europe the Black-winged Kite is rare and local with increasing breeding only in southern Portugal, central and southern Spain & south-west France. They also breed in North Africa in parts of Morocco, coastal Algeria & Tunisia, and the Nile Valley. Numbers are increasing in Egypt but declining in northwest Africa. South of the Sahara it is a common and widespread species from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to the Cape including Madagascar. In Asia they breed in the south-west of the Arabian Peninsula and from Pakistan, through the Indian Subcontinent, south-east Asia and the Philippines south to Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawasi as well as in central and eastern New Guinea. They are mainly resident over much of their range but some undergo erratic movements. Recorded as a vagrant in a number of European Countries as well as being recorded in Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, and the Middle East, with birds to these areas presumably coming from north-east Africa.
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus vociferus - adult

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus vociferus - adult

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus vociferus - adult

There are four subspecies in the world with only two likely to reach Saudi Arabia, Elanus caeruleus caeruleus South-western Iberian Peninsula, Africa and south-western Arabia, E.c.vociferus Pakistan to eastern China, Indochina & Malay Peninsula. The birds seen in the south-west of Saudi Arabia are from the E.c.caerileus sub-species but the bird we saw was of the C.e.vociferus sub-species as it had very dark under-wing markings on the secondaries unlike the more western race E.c.caerileus. See the difference between our bird above and one from Andalucia, Spain below. The excellent photos below were taken by Stephen Daly and are used with his kind permission.


Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus caerileus - adult (Adalusia, Spain)
Photographed by Stephen Daly & used with kind permission


Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus caerileus - adult (Adalusia, Spain)
Photographed by Stephen Daly & used with kind permission


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