White-tailed Kite

Photo © Karen Straus/San Diego Audubon Society

Quick Facts:

  • These hawks hunt in open areas for small mammals like mice and voles in early morning and late day.
  • They nest in Mission Bay, Rose Canyon, and Marian Bear Park
  • They have red eyes, black shoulders, white face and underparts, and long narrow pointed wings.
  • Males sometimes give females gifts of prey midair during courtship.

  This graceful hawk hunts over open areas for small mammals. When it spots a mouse or vole, it hovers in place high above the ground, beating its wings, then bends its wings upward and floats down to catch its prey. Kites also nest in Rose Canyon and Marian Bear Park, which are upstream from Mission Bay and thus part of the same watershed. Kites often hunt early in the morning and late in the day. They have black shoulders, a white face and underparts, and red eyes. Watch for their long, narrow pointed wings and slow, steady wing beats. During courtship, the male sometimes catches prey as a gift for the female and hands it off to her in midair. If three or more kites are flying together, the parents are teaching their young to hunt.


The White-tailed kite is a Raptor bird that hunts small mammals. What do you think the White-tailed kite does when it can’t find food or has nothing to do?

Click for the answer:

The White-tailed kite Roosts when it cant find food. Roosting is a bird’s way of conserving energy.