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Brahminy Kite: Nesting observations

on 30th August 2007

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In March 2007, Mark Chua came across a nesting pair of Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) (above) raising two large chicks in a nest lodged high up in the fork of a tall casuarina tree (Casuarina equisetifolia). He managed to document the chicks in the nest, their fledging as well as many dramatic flight shots.

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Like most other raptors, the nest is a large, untidy pile of sticks (left). According to Naoroji (2006), the nest is usually lined with common discarded items like rags, strings, pieces of plastic, etc. However, this cannot be confirmed here as the images failed to show other than twigs. It is also reported that the birds build a new nest each season, sometimes recycling the old nest materials, at times even reusing the old nest after some repairs.

Wells (1999) states that the inner cup of the 60-90 cm diameter and 15-30 cm deep nest is lined with a pan of dried mud, 10-15 cm across.

Two or even three eggs are normally laid and both sexes share in the incubation duties. In this instance two chicks were raised (left bottom).

As reported by Wells (1999), food is often eaten directly while soaring.

This large kite has a striking plumage of rufous-brown and white as an adult. The head, neck to mantle, and throat to upper belly and flanks are all white. In the nominate subspecies, indus, that is seen in the Indomalayan region, the white has finely darkish streaks (top).

From below in flight, the white head, neck and breast contrast sharply with the chestnut lower belly, deep chestnut underwing-coverts with pale chestnut-buff under flight feathers with contrasting blackish primary fingers.

The juvenile is mostly brown, and this has been reported to vary with the season. From below the white-tipped underwing-coverts and large white wing panels are prominent.

Mark Chua
Singapore
August 2007

References:
Naoroji, Rishad (2006). Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. London: Christopher Helm.

Wells, D.R. (1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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