Status in Northern Ireland:
Recently reintroduced to Northern Ireland; small breeding population; year-round resident.
A medium-sized raptor often mistaken for a Buzzard. Adult plumage is similar between the sexes, with a pale grey head, rufous upper and underparts with white patches on the underwings and a distinctive reddish and deeply- forked tail that is used like a rudder. Red Kites occupy a range of habitats and can often be seen over towns and villages and most often over open farmland. They have a varied diet that includes small birds, mammals, amphibians, carrion and invertebrates and can often be seen walking around fields ‘worming’. They build nests in small woodlands and are well known for decorating their nests with items such as wool, paper, plastic and clothing which historically earned them the name, “Cloth Kite”. Communal winter roosting is common. In 2010, County Down saw the first red kites to hatch in Northern Ireland in over 200 years. This small breeding population is extremely vulnerable to illegal poisoning.