On of my favourite sights, whether in the heart of the city, out on the pier in Sai Kung, or on the Peak: The Black-eared Kite (Milvus migrans lineatus) is widespread throughout Hong Kong. These are some new images that I took last week.
The Black-eared kite’s specific taxonomy is still being debated by scientists with the evolution of genes of local birds under investigation, so some still call them Black Kites. Partially migratory birds, they prefer the tropics in winter.
A great place to see them is off the pier in Sai Kung on the weekend .
Research suggests the winter population keeps to around 2-3000 birds, but in the summer only around three hundred or so may choose to stay in Hong Kong. As well as eating fish, Kites also feed on birds, snakes, lizards, rodents and carrion. Considered to have strong legs, but weak feet, they are still pirates of the air, occasionally stealing prey from other birds. They are opportunistic eaters, and we’ve even witnessed one trying to carry off a little boy’s shoe!
Despite living off a mercury laden fish diet, they probably have a similar technique to the Japanese Black-eared kites, where they accumulate the toxins in their feathers, then deposit them by moulting.