Find out about the majestic English bird, the Red Kite

This week we have been staying in Henley in Oxfordshire, most well-known for its regattas but more interestingly home to a large population of the beautiful red kite. As we drove down the M40 on the way to the Caravan Club Site that we were staying on, we saw lots of red kites soaring above us. The breeze was gentle that day so these graceful birds didn’t have to flap their wings at all; they just glided through the air.

During our stay at Henley we have seen red kites everywhere, circling above the site, perched on trees and have even heard three or four of them calling to each other as they fly right over our heads.

Because we have seen so many red kites around, I thought it would be suitable to learn and write about these magnificent creatures.

Red kite fact file

  • Red kites’ bodies are between 61 – 66 cm in length
  • They weigh between 750 and 1000g
  • A red kite’s body is predominantly reddy-brown with orange flecks. It has black tips on its wings and a white head.
  • It is recognisable for its forked tail
  • Its bright yellow eyes help it look for any small mammals or eggs to feast on.
  • The red kite has an amazing wingspan of 2m in length!
  • A red kite’s habitat can be anything as long as there is a large wide tree to build their nest on.
  • They can be found in Europe, West Asia, North Africa, the Canary and Cape Verde Islands.
  • The red kite has one predator, the goshawk but the goshawk is threatened by human activity like the red kite.
red kite image 7

Red kites were once on the verge of extinction but can now be seen all year round in many places throughout the UK and abroad. If you are keen to see a red kite the place that you are most likely to spot them is in a woodland or near a wide open space, like a field. This is because they eat mice and small mammals that live in these habitats so will be hunting where their meals can be found.

If you are lucky enough to see a red kite, listen carefully to its call (often described as a mewing: eee-ooo ee oo ee oo ee oo) and try calling back.


Q: Why do red kites spend a lot of their time on their knees?

A: Because they are birds of prey of course!

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