(Steve Peck continues with his fascinating observations of the Black-winged Kite pair building their nest. The full story should be read from bottom to top – Ed.)
On Wednesday 3 July I returned to the kites and observed for 2 hours (10.15 -12.15pm). In all this time the female didn’t leave the nest at all, while the male sat in a tree some 30m away and spent the whole time preening himself, except for one fly down to the ground in which he picked up two separate sticks, but discarded them both before flying back to his tree to continue his preening!
Today, 5 July I returned a little early, working on the assumption that he was preening at 10am last time so maybe he had already provided food to the female by that time. So I was in position by 9am and had already passed the male sitting on a wire some 200m away from the nest, a good sign I thought. I checked that he female was still in residence and she was, and just caught a glimpse of the male head off over the fields in a low fast flyby.
20mins later he returned fast and low, the female saw him before me and she was off the nest and they met in mid-air where he exchanged food to her talons to talons! Unfortunately it was the other side of the tree and photographic opportunities were impossible!! However she took the kill, which turned out to be a striped mouse onto a low tree some 40m from her nest and proceeded to eat in all with in 6mins, meanwhile the male hopped onto the nest, I assume to keep the eggs warm? As soon as she had finished the meal the female flew straight back to the nest, the male immediately vacated it and she settled down once again.
He then flew away across the low vegetation. Some 45mins later the male returned with yet another striped mouse but this time he settled away from the nest and devoured the rodent himself.
Further observations hopefully will be made soon…..
male eating said mouse
Male returning to nesting site with his own mouse
Male leaving nest and female above
Female returning to nest
Male above nest just before he hops on
Female with the mouse given to her in mid air by male
Female on nest
I returned a week later to the pair of nest building kites around Napier, and to my delight found the female kite was sitting on a well formed nest of sticks.
Observations over the next two hours saw the male return to the nest only once, and this was with a further stick in its bill, it landed on the nest for no more than seconds before departing with a stick in its mouth….studies of the images taken seem to indicate that it was not the original stick?
This bringing of more sticks to the apparently completed nest usually indicates that the female hasn’t laid eggs at the moment.
This stick collecting continues for about 10 days and grass lining is added to the next three days to the nest, only then does the female lay her eggs.
Further discreet monitoring will hopefully reveal more of this fascinating story…..
(Mating and nest building)
Today I was lucky enough to witness two Black-winged Kites mating in some low trees along the dirt roads out by Napier.
The female was already perched on the low branches of the tree when the male approached her from behind, she immediately crouched flat and spread her tail and he then mounted her, flapping his wings to maintain balance.
Copulation between these birds is frequent in the nest building stages, which will be a flat platform of sticks, most often at the topmost of the tree, and always with easy access from above.
This mating between the pair also stimulates the nest building instincts and usually the male will start to collect sticks taken either from the ground or broken off trees near by.
His actions usually stimulate the female to do like wise and start the collecting of sticks for the nest building stage as well.
All sticks are carried in the bill of the birds, and both birds partake in the nest building.
Birds have been recorded on average of making approx 38 trips a day, usually in the early morning to collect and build the nest.
Eggs can be laid as early as two weeks after the completion of the nest.
Hopefully my pair will go on to raise a family in the coming weeks….