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Black-shouldered Kite: Mating

on 12th October 2007

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On the morning of 5th August 2007, Chan Yoke Meng succeeded in recording a series of images of a pair of Black-shouldered Kites (Elanus caeruleus) in the act of copulation. The female bird was perching at the top of a vertical dead stem of a tree when the male flew in from behind (above). Wings fully stretched, tail feathers fanned and talons at the ready, he landed on her back (below).

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The moment he grasped her back with his talons, she crouched low with wings extending downwards below the tail. He had to maintain his balance by flapping his wings (below).

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In a flash he made cloacal contact. It is during this “cloacal kiss” that sperm are transferred from the male’s cloaca into the cloaca of the female. The act was over in less than two seconds (below).

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The cloacal contact caused the male to release his grip on her and he slipped down slightly before projecting himself upwards. All these movements caused the female to stabilise herself with wings outstretched (below).

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With a final flap of his wings, the male flew off with wings fully stretched and feet hanging down, to finally glide away from the female.

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According to the literature, copulation normally takes place at or around the nest site. And copulation can occur up to ten or more times a day for a few days. Prior to copulation, there would be aerial displays and courtship feeding, but these were not observed on that morning.

Subsequently, the pair continued with their nest building activities. Unfortunately there was a murder of crows around. And as with all House Crows (Corvus splendens), they harassed the pair of kites, so much so that the pair may have abandoned their nest building efforts.

Did the kites fly off to look for another nesting site? Away from the aggressive crows and where there is more privacy? Your guess is as good as mine.

Input and images by Chan Yoke Meng.

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

10 Responses

  1. Wonderful photos! I see that the act was over in just two seconds. How do you take the pictures all at once in just two seconds. Do you have to take a video?

    I am trying to take birds that are flying. But always fail. How do people take photos of birds flying.

  2. hi..i just wanna know the location you manage to capture this bird..interseting..i mean,i’m studying about this bird..can you share with me the location?

  3. Sorry Admin,
    I disagree, you don’t need fancy equipment to shoot birds in flight, if you wish I can send you sharp images of BIFs taken with my little Nikon D3200. If anyone is interested it’s up for sale @ $250.00

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