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Black Kite

Common name for a medium-sized bird of prey, with the scientific name Milvus migrans. This hawk-like bird is widespread, ranging from temperate and tropical parts of Africa and Europe to Asia and Australia, though curiously, it is not found in the Indonesian archipelago between the South East Asian mainland and the Wallace Line, i.e. the border between Asia and Australia. In Thailand, this bird of prey is a winter visitor and passage migrant, known by the designation yiyaw dam (เหยี่ยวดำ). Despite its name, the Black Kite is not black, but rather dark brown, apart perhaps from the dark, almost black tip of the beak. It has a shallow-forked tail, best visible in flight, during which it continuously angles this body part from side to side. During flight, also a pale covert-band is visible. Juvenile birds have broad white steaks on the body and wings, and on the underside, the tail is whitish and the wing's apex has a broad white patch (fig.). There are several subspecies, including the European Black Kite (Milvus migrans migrans), the Black-eared Kite (Milvus migrans lineatus - fig.), the Pariah Kite (Milvus migrans govinda - fig.), the Fork-tailed Kite (Milvus migrans affinis), and the Taiwan Kite (Milvus migrans formosanus), of which both the Pariah Kite and the Black-eared Kite occur in mainland Southeast Asia, with the latter being somewhat larger and having a typically whiter face and throat (fig.). The Pariah Kite (fig.) is also known as Small Indian Kite (fig.), and is often found in urban areas with a high human population, such as Delhi in India, which after a survey in 1967 claimed to have about 2,200 pairs. The latter subspecies is easily distinguished by its shallow forked tail (fig.). The ability to adapt to a wide variety of habitats, makes the Black Kite the most numerous bird of prey, found in crowded cities, as well as in desolate areas. Its diet consists of insects, lizards, frogs, carrion, and small mammals, such as rats.