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Breeding Birds: Black-shouldered Kite

March 02, 1990|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich and Janice L. Jones / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Black-Shouldered Kite

(Elanus caeruleus Desfontaines)

Description: Long, pointed wings. White underparts and long, mostly white, tail. Black shoulders show in flight as black leading edge of inner wings from above, small black patches from below.

Habitat: Brushy grasslands, farmlands and highway median strips.

Diet: Insects, rodents.

Displays: Slow circling flight by pair, one passes below, rolls onto back as if to pass food, but interlocks feet with mate.

Nest: In treetops, hidden from below, but open from above. Large and deep; made of twigs and lined with grass, stubble, rootlets, moss and inner bark.

Eggs: White, marked with brown. Slightly less than two inches long.

Natural history notes: Formerly known as White-tailed Kite. Populations fluctuate but are now on the upswing, with increasingly expanding range.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas, call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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