Red Kites in flight with buzzards over corn fields

Red Kite low over fieldsThe last days in May were stormy days in the Vogelsberg on the edge of the Wetterau. At least 8 Red Kites (Milvus milvus) flew over 3 various nearby maize fields along with at least 25 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and two Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The were flying in the upwinds very easily. Obviously they liked the windy weather with some sunshine and than dark clouds of thunderstorm very much. Such a large assembly of birds of prey, especially Red Kites in such a small area I had not seen before. From time to time, the raptors landed and caught a – not determinable – small prey and sit down among the green stalks. After a while, even a White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, appeared and searched the field for food. A great picture. The Red Kites are said to be convicted robbers to other birds by attacking them to leave their food. But this could not be observed. Certainly one hour the kites could be seen circling low over the green rows of corn field. Some individuals of the Red Kites were only 15 meters from the small country road near Ulfa away. Once the car stopped, they flew on a little further and then circled over the field.

Red Kites reach a size of 70 cm and a wingspan of about 160 cm. The breeding range of the Red Kites is limited to Central Europe in light deciduous and mixed forests of the lower mountains. Only part of the population moves further south in winter to the Mediterranean, a large part of the population winter here. As said, the Red Kites sometimes beg the prey from other birds of prey, but they usually catch the prey themselves – preferred small mammals and birds.

The Red Kite, Milvus milvus, is quickly identifiable by its forked tail. Striking feature is the reddish color in the plumage of the tail. The long, narrow wings are on the bottom of very high contrast, striking are the bright head and the bright feathers on the black wing tips.
The expansion of maize cultivation is normally a not so welcome page of nature conservation. As part of agricultural intensification more and more grassland has been converted to monotonous corn fields. The situation has been exacerbated in recent years as the corn is not only grown as animal feed, but also for “green” energy production.

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