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Bring out ya dead

May 7, 2019

Coming around the bend on the approach to Strath Creek last week I came across the sight of a Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) feeding on a fox carcass (pictured below). The Kite seemed none-too-perturbed by the approaching car until I stopped and turned the car around to get a better look. Then it was quickly off into the nearest tree to sit with its mate (pictured below left). Unfortunately I did not have the time to wait for them to come down and feed again.

Whistling Kites are one of the apex predators in our district and are generally found near water – wetlands, creeks, etc. During breeding season (June to October) they feed on a range of live prey including mammals, fish, insects and amphibians which they snatch from the surface. At other times they feed on carrion and are often seen along roadsides searching for road-kill. Kites and other scavengers provide an essential role in removing dead things from the landscape.

An occupational hazard for raptors which scavenge along the roadside is becoming road-kill itself. These Whistling Kites took to the air very quickly but bigger birds such as Wedge-tailed Eagles become victims to cars because they take longer to get airborne.

In retrospect with more time and more appropriate clothing I would have dragged the carcass further off the road. Luckily when I drove back later in the day there were no Kites dead on the ground.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lesley Dalziel permalink
    May 7, 2019 8:15 am

    There was a small flock of Fork Tailed Kites patrolling Kobyboyn Road near the golf course for road kill a few days ago. Unusual for here.

  2. Chris Cobern permalink
    May 7, 2019 10:19 am

    It’s a good idea to always have a pair of gloves in the car for dragging roadkill safely from the edge of the road.
    Also a pillowcase and safety vest is handy for rescuing injured birds off and near the road.

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