This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: #http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Milvus migrans and M. lineatus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) have been lumped following AERC TAC, a treatment supported by review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group of the Milvus phylogeny presented by Johnson et al. (2005) which nests lineatus within the migrans clade. Johnson et al. (2005) show that yellow-billed populations belonging to aegyptius and parasitus do form a separate clade but the authors point out that further studies are needed to help clarify sister relationships within the group. For these reasons it is felt premature to split members of M. migrans.
Behaviour The species is mainly migratory, with birds from Europe and northern Asia wintering in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. Those at lower latitudes do not tend to be full migrants (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrating birds leave their breeding grounds between July and October, arriving back between February and May (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is generally a gregarious species, with birds often roosting communally and migrating in scattered flocks (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It is found ubiquitously throughout habitats, although avoiding dense woodland, and is recorded foraging up to 4,000 m in the Himalayas (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet An extremely versatile feeder, it takes carrion as well as live birds, mammals, fish, lizards, amphibians and invertebrates, and is even known to forage on vegetable matter such as palm oil fruits; human refuse has become a plentiful food source in many areas (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The nest is usually built on the fork or branch of a tree (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information The species has become highly commensal with people and thrives in human-dominated environments, but modernisation of cities appears to reduce its breeding success (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).
The species has suffered historically as a result of poisoning, shooting and the pollution of water by pesticides and other chemicals (Orta et al. 2015). Agricultural pesticide poisoning caused its extirpation as a breeder in Israel in the 1950s; it has since recolonised (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Carcass poisoning and water pollution continues to drive declines in Europe and parts of Asia. Whilst it is well-suited to the presence of humans, particularly in terms of its diet, the modernisation of cities has been shown to reduce available habitat, with overall Black Kite populations showing declines through the 20th century in Delhi and Istanbul (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). In its West African range, the species is vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting and overgrazing as well as exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007). It is very highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012).
BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.
Global Raptors Information Network. 2015. Species account: Black Kite Milvus migrans. Available at: http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8305. (Accessed: 02/07/2015).
IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 November 2015).
Johnson, J. A.; Watson, R. T.; Mindell, D. P. 2005. Prioritizing species conservation: does the Cape Verde Kite exist? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 272: 1365-1371.
Orta, J., Marks, J.S., Garcia, E.F.J. and Kirwan, G.M. 2015. Black Kite (Milvus migrans). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.
Thiollay, J.-M. 2007. Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 405-413.
Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)
Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J
IUCN Red List evaluators
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Milvus migrans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/11/2015.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Least Concern|
|Family||Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)|
|Species name author||(Boddaert, 1783)|
|Population size||1000000-2499999 mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||46,700,000 km2|
|Links to further information|
- Additional Information on this species|
- 2015 European Red List assessment