Perth Raptor Care

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus notatus

Adult Black-shouldered Kite

Characteristics in Captivity

These are rather nutty, high stress birds. Their habit of climbing the walls makes them difficult to house without feather damage. This is made worse by the fact that their feathers are quite soft. These small raptors have a huge gape, and will quite happily gulp down a small mouse whole. They are jumpy, but can often be persuaded to sit on a gloved hand in the hospital room while their box is cleaned out. They have a curious threat posture of bending forward, gaping at you, and shaking their head. This can be accompanied by vocalisations. When they are used to you, they can act amazingly tame in that they will not fly away. I believe this is a defiant attitude, rather than one of the bird trusting you.

NOTE: Care should be taken when housing these raptors in netting roofed aviaries. They WILL hang upside-down. If the netting is 1/2 inch squares or loose, they can turn, twist the net tightly around a toe, and get stuck. It is ideal if Black-shouldered Kites (BSK's) are housed either in solid, shadecloth or wood slat roofed aviaries. If this is not possible, have the ladder and net cutters waiting ready in the aviary.

Hunting Strategies

This is one of the two "hovering" raptors in Western Australia. Their hover is different to the Kestrel's, in that the wings are much more active, and the tail and body are angled downwards, rather than horizontally. The rapidly beating wings distinguishes them from the hovering Kestrel at a distance. Their prey includes ground dwelling rodents, insects and reptiles. They have powerful stubby toes, and are capable of dispatching anything up to the size of a small rat. They seem less inclined to hunt from a perch than a Kestrel.


Mice are ideal in captivity, as they are so close to the natural diet. Other food items will be eaten. This is the only species in which I have met a bird that liked Baytril. Yuck!


Female : 250 - 340g. Male : 200 - 300g.

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