Monday, July 23, 2012

Milvus migrans: of Forked-tail and Black-ears


young Fork-tailed Kite


Milvus migrans affinis

(Australian Black Kite)
General guides in Australia simply refer to this as Black Kite but another name is Fork-tailed Kite.

(Click on the image for a closer view)

Oakey, Queensland, Australia
August 2011



This is a comparison between two subspecies of Black Kite, Milvus migrans affinis of Australia and Milvus migrans lineatus of Japan. 

I'm not exactly sure how to separate the two, the above names are from the Wikipedia Black Kite page
It differs a little from my "Raptors of the World" by James Ferguson-Lees and David Christie. The latter designates the Australian bird as a subspecies of Milvus migrans but separates the Japanese kite from 'migrans' as simply Milvus lineatus. I don't think there is much in it so I won't worry too much. I'm not a scientist.


Black-eared Kite

Milvus migrans lineatus


(Japanese Black Kite)


Japanese name: Tobi


This Kite is just a little larger and bulkier than the Australian Kites.
So named for the darker patch around the ears.
It also has a more distinctive white patch just near the base of the front primary feathers
and the wings are broader.

Toyanogata, Niigata, Japan


Black-eared Kite

This photo shows how the Fork-tailed Kite forks its tail in flight as compared to the first photo where it is stretched out squarely.
The tail looks very forked when perched. More noticeably than with the Black-eared Kites. 

Fork-tailed Kite

The Australian race is the smallest of the Black Kites according to my raptor book.

Fork-tailed Kite 
Notice how the wings are narrower than the Black-eared Kites below.

Oakey, Queensland, Australia
August 2011

Black-eared Kite 

Sakata, Niigata, Japan

2007

Black-eared Kite

Black-eared Kite
Notice on the above three photos the distinct white window at the end of the wings.

Black-eared Kite, Hyoko, Niigata, Japan (snowing)


young Fork-tailed Kite, Oakey
I think in this photo we can just see the yellow cere found on the Australian Kites.
(cere: nose)

immature Fork-tailed Kite
Here we can see yellow feet!

adult Fork-tailed Kite
The wings look very narrow to me now I'm use to Japanese birds!

Fork-tail

Fork-tail
Showing how flexible the tail really is.

Black-eared Kite
Usually the light is much duller for the Japanese species and colours can be difficult to compare.

Black-eared

The feet are greyish blue, not yellow.

Black-eared

Black-eared


Fork-tailed kite

It's interesting to compare them again in different lighting conditions.



Fork-tailed Kite

Fork-tailed Kite

Can you tell which is which? 







View from Enoshima, 2002
Taken with a Pentax Z-1 film camera.