Whistling Kite

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Whistling Kite, Haliastur sphenurus, is a very large bird ranging in size from 50cm to 60cm. It can be identified in flight by the long pale rounded tail, black and fawn patterned under-wings and its shrill whistling call. At rest the bare stone-coloured legs, fawn with brown streaked body and lighter head are noticeable. Juvenile birds are more treaked and heavily spotted.

Feeding Habits

Feeds on fish, lizards, rabbits and carrion often picked up from road kills. They will harass smaller birds for an easy meal.


At anytime though mainly February-September. The nest is built on a large platform of sticks in the forks of tall eucalypts or melaleuca trees near water. Often used for many years. One-to-three eggs, most of the incubation is done by the female.

Places to Look

  • Open woodlands
  • Lakes
  • Treelined watercourses
  • Road edges, feeding on carrion.

Its presence made known by its whistling call.


  • Loss of suitable tall nesting trees
  • Laying of poisoned bait.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

Whistling Kite © Birdlife Townsville 2008

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