White-tailed Kites: Hatching

From the time of hatching, the nestlings are fed by the female with prey captured by the male. The male transfers the fresh prey to the female, and then remains in the general vicinity of the nest to watch over the family. The prey is torn apart by the female, and either eaten by her or provided to the young who take pieces of food from the mother’s beak. Until the chicks start developing feathers, the female broods the young and remains with them at night. Toward the end of the third week, the down of the chicks is almost replaced by feathers. This first plumage provides better protection of the young against weather variation and also as better camouflage. The female now stays away from the nest for longer periods, returning mostly to feed the growing chicks. Toward the end of the nestling period, either parent may leave a whole prey item in the nest for the young to consume on their own by tearing or by swallowing. (8)

When the youngsters are about a month old, their calls begin to sound more like those of their parents and they become more active. Shortly afterwards and at different times, they leave the nest usually within two to four days of each other. For several days after the young have left, the parents continue to leave prey at the nest. Once the young have fledged, the male ceases to feed the female. (8).