The black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus), also known as the black-shouldered kite (not to be confused with the closely related Australian species with the same name), is a small diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae best known for its habit of hovering over open grasslands in the manner of the much smaller kestrels.
They are not migratory, but show nomadism in response to weather and food availability. They are well adapted to utilize periodic upsurges in rodent populations and can raise multiple broods in a single year unlike most birds of prey.
This small raptor is able to hunt by hovering on upturned wings about 50 meters above the ground. When prey is sighted, the kite glides gracefully straight down into the grass. Black-shouldered Kites are highly nomadic - moving about in search of prey.
Their diet includes small mammals and insects, rodents and small birds.
Black-shouldered Kite is usually seen singly or in pairs. Occasionally gregarious they may form small family groups and roost communally.
They are monogamous birds with the female of the species selecting her mate based on his territory. Breeding occurs all year round and peaks in the summer months. The nest, which is built by the male and female birds, is a small platform of sticks lined with grass, about 30cm in diameter. This is placed near the top of a tree in a fork.
Predators include the Bateleur and Tawny eagles and the Spotted Eagle Owl. Nestlings are preyed on by Jackal buzzard.