White-tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus


White-tailed Kite
We are lucky on the San Francisco Peninsula to have easy access to the beautiful
and fierce White-tailed Kite, a year-round resident readily seen in oak savannah
countryside, and not infrequently in wooded suburbs.


White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite
Above and below, a kite killing and eating a just-captured vole; they and other small mammals are the favored prey of this species. More photos of this feeding incident are here.

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite
A kite hoverning or "kiting," the foraging action from which they derive their common name.

White-tailed Kite
A kite bringing a twig to a nest being built in a live oak tree.

White-tailed Kites
Above and below, this pair put on a courting display that I was able to photograph
on Independence Day, 2012, which is quite late in the season for courtship. More
pictures from this display can be seen here.

White-tailed Kites

White-tailed Kite
Juveniles are identified by rufous feathering on the underparts, quite extensive in June on the young bird above, and by white tips on the gray upperpart feathers, shown on the three perched birds below. 

White-tailed Kites

White-tailed Kite
Above, a juvenile with only a trace of a breast-band left in late October, on a bird that obliged me by flying across the rising full moon at sunset.