White-tailed Kites: Fledging

Within a week of the young leaving the nest, one of the parents, usually the male, appears to demonstrate the hovering hunting technique to the young. The adult bird flies to where the young fledglings are perched, and then repeatedly performs a hover and drop hunt sequence, while frequently calling “eegrack”. The young kites watch and then join the adult in performing the mock hunting action. Often if a young kite does not participate, it is forced off its perch by the parent. Once the juveniles are performing the sequence, the adult perches and watches. This training activity takes no more than about two minutes.

Waian (8) found that although parents maintain territorial boundaries during nesting, after fledging, young birds cross into neighboring territories and nests without any hostile reaction from other adults. Young kites from different nests interact with each other as if they were siblings, and may be fed by neighboring males. During this time, young kites socialize both during the day while flying around, and at night when they perch and sleep together in the same tree. (8)

For about four weeks after the young kites have left the nest, they remain in the nesting territory and are fed mostly by the male, who provides them with food in either the perched or aerial mode, although the latter may not always be successful at first. The frequency of feeding by the male parent diminishes, until eventually the juveniles either leave the nesting area or are driven out by the parents. As they grow older, the brownish coloring of the young feathers on the breast, head and back begins to fade and the young appear more like their parents. From five months to a year, a young bird is best distinguished from an adult by the difference in eye color; the adult eye color is red, that of the youngster brown. (8)