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Black-Shouldered Kite

Black-Shouldered Kite
Photo Information
Copyright: Vishal Sabharwal (shal) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 256 W: 64 N: 481] (2140)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-03-03
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D AF ED, UV Filter
Exposure: f/8, 1/1000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of Prey- RAPTORS (II), Gems from India [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-03-05 9:11
Viewed: 5708
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 52
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) is a small raptor found in open habitat throughout Australia. Like all the elanid kites, it is a specialist predator of rodents.

The name "Black-shouldered Kite" was formerly used for a European and African species, Elanus caeruleus, and the Australian bird (and also a North American species, the White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus) were treated as subspecies of this. However the three species are now regarded as distinct, and the name Black-winged Kite is used for E. caeruleus. Modern references to the Black-shouldered Kite should therefore unambiguously mean the Australian species.

Black-Shouldered Kites are around 35 to 38 cm in length and have a wingspan of between 80 and 95 cm. Adults are a very pale grey with a white head and white underparts. The leading edge of the inner wing is black. When perched, this gives them their prominent black "shoulders".

Although reported from almost all parts of Australia, they are most common in the relatively fertile south-east and south-west corners of the mainland, and in south-east Queensland.They are also common throughout Southern Africa. They are rare in the deep desert and appear to be only accidental visitors to northern Tasmania and the Torres Strait islands. Although found in timbered country, they are mainly birds of the grasslands. European occupation of Australia has, on the whole, benefited them by clearing vast expanses of forest for agriculture and providing suitable conditions for much larger numbers of mice.

Black-shouldered Kites live almost exclusively on mice. They take other suitably-sized creatures when available, including grasshoppers, rats, small reptiles, birds, and even (very rarely) rabbits, but mice and other mouse-sized mammals account for over 90% of their diet. Their influence on mouse populations is probably significant: adults take two or three mice a day each if they can, and on one occasion a male was observed bringing no less than 14 mice to a nest of well-advanced fledglings within an hour.

Like other elanid kites, Black-shouldered Kites hunt by quartering grasslands for small creatures. This can be from a perch (usually a dead tree, as illustrated above), but more often by hovering in mid-air with conspicuous skill and little apparent effort. Typically, a kite will hover 10 to 50 metres above a particular spot, peering down intently, sometimes for only a few seconds, often for a minute or more, then glide swiftly to a new vantage point and hover again.

When a mouse or other prey is spotted, the kite drops silently onto it, feet-first with wings raised high; sometimes in one long drop to ground level, more often in two or more stages, with hovering pauses at intermediate heights. About two-thirds of attacks are successful. Prey can either be eaten in flight or carried back to a perch.

Tamrock, Argus, Debz, jaycee, ramthakur, horia, Adanac, vhemmati, SelenE, Raptorman, radz, jeanpaul, scottevers7, nainnain, livios, Necipp, goldyrs has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

hi vishal!
nice one on this lovely bird!
sharp with good composition
and fine exposure!
well done!

wow wow wow.
That's the composition. Perfect focus. Look at the red eye. Really excellant. I can imagine the time you might have waited for the bird to turn left. The natural blue color is fabulous.This gonna be my favorite.


nice shot good focus nice colors great expression on the bird. i just got a picture of one of these out of my car window the other day. not anywhere near this good though.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-03-05 10:11]

Hello Vishal,
Excellent capture of the Eurasian Black-shouldered Kite with fine sharpness, pose and comp. in good lighting and with fine blue sky BG.
Well done and TFS!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-03-05 11:00]

Hi Vishal,

This is beautiful!!! The pose, colors, sharpness are all perfect. The Kite shows off so well against that fantastic blue sky.


With the bird's head turned sideways, you have captured a great shot from the rear perspective, Vishal.
The red eye glows like a fiery sphere with the dark eyebrow giving it a grave and no-nonsense appearance.
The blue sky acts a well suited background.

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2007-03-05 14:33]

Hi Vishal
Wonderful capture! I love the keen eye of this beautiful bird. Excellent sharpness, colors and composition!
My compliments and TFS.

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2007-03-05 16:58]

Uma belissima ave pousando pra voce,muito bom esta imagem,um foco exelente com uma boa nitidez meus parabéns.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-03-05 17:20]

Hi Vishal

A really beautiful and trather rare capture from you!
This Black-Shouldered Kite look amazing nad i really love the pose you caught it in, with his heat turned a little - just giving you a glance at his piercing eye.
The colors and lovely and that charming blue sky makes a wonderful BG.
Very well framed and composed, too.

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-03-05 19:11]

Hi Vishal,
Beautiful capture with marvelous colors and great details, thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • Swats Silver Star Critiquer [C: 37 W: 0 N: 3] (151)
  • [2007-03-06 0:41]

Wow!! Fantastic capture! The look in the eye is amazing!! Nice details, colours and composition.

Hi Vishal,

This is absolutely amazing. Beautiful bird, nicely captured. I like the color of the eye and the details of the shot, good composition too.


  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-03-06 3:04]

Very nice shot, Vishal.
One of my favorite birds to watch in action.
I find them fascinating and beautiful.
A great POV of this beautiful raptor with excellent details and exposure. What fantastic eyes!
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-03-06 4:44]

Hi Vishal,
This is a very good catch. POV, composition and the focus is very good. I liked the expression on that eye :o) TFS

Hello Vishal,
This is a great capture of this beautiful bird. I like its red eye, details, POV, exposure and pose. This is a magnificent bird. Well done on the composition. This is a very interesting specie :) Thanks,

Hello Vishal , your photo is excellent and eyes , eye color is incredible , congrat.

  • Great 
  • badar Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 0 N: 160] (785)
  • [2007-03-07 1:10]

HI Vishal,
You have a lovely image here, the turned head showing a beautiful red eye is nice. Sharp details against a blue sky.Though i find your note very confusing.
Badruddin Ali

  • Great 
  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2007-03-07 6:50]

This cute pose giving you..Nice POV&Composition..Details are nice.

Bonjour Vishal
Elle est très joli cette prise de vue .Les détails et les couleurs et belle composition sont superbes
ainsi que le beau BG
Bravo et merci JP

Hi Vishal,
It´s a great photo of this beautiful bird! Perfect composition and nice colours. Very sharp and with great lighting. Tfs.

Regards, Peter

bonjour shal
vous n'avez pas l'air de deranger ce rapace,il vous regarde mais pense qu'il est or d'atteinte,c'etait sans compter sur l'appareil.oui en effet superbe cliché,le POV est genial et cela met particulierement bien en valeur ce bel oiseau.

Hi Vishal,
Oh Yea! This is superb! Flawless composition and framing. The exposure is spot on. Colors and detail are excellent. Very well done!

belle photo, bonne note, supers couleurs, tout est bien
bravo et merci

  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2007-03-17 0:52]

Vishal, composition and saturation are winners here.

Excellent colors and pose. I like the clear bg too.


Hello Shal a wonderful pose you caught here perfect composition lovely detail and colours tfs rgds Necip.

Well done for capturing this beautiful bird, and such good detail. Perhaps cropping a little off the bottom to sit the own on the bottom third of the image would help with the compositional balance, particularly as there's no detail in that area me & my little knowledge)). Super shot, bro!!

Dear Vishal,
Excellent detail of Black Shouldered Kite. Eyes look awesome. Your photographer's note talks about Australia where as bird is from India. TFS.
PS: We share the same camera & lens Nikon D200, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D AF ED.

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