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Mystery bird of prey in the Sahara (1 Viewer)

CT6

New member
Hi,

I spotted this bird (see attached image, apologies for the quality) over the Sudanese Sahara desert during my journey around the world by bicycle and I was wondering if anyone could help me identify it.

Many thanks

Steve - http://www.cyclingthe6.blogspot.com
 

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Looks like a red kite to me but better birders will come along in a while.

Never mind that though - well done on your round the world cycle ride!!

Mike
 
If I saw that in France I would say Red Kite but I'm not happy with the fork in the tail - I would expect more fork in a Red so I'm wandering if it's an Eastern Black....

In summary it's def a Kite. If there is a variation in the east then probably that if not then Red.
 
My understanding was that the known distribution of Red Kites does not include Sudan / east Africa. I read that almost the entire world breeding population is in Europe, with a few tens of pairs in Morocco. So ???? Eastern Black...
 
I must admit I thought it was one of the kites at first but - the pale crown and the proportionally long tail make me think it may be a moulting Marsh Harrier.

Chris
 
For what it's worth,it looks very much like the Black Kites that we get over much of Australia and are present in many other locations all over the world.
 
Black & red Kite taxa relationships

Hi,

I spotted this bird (see attached image, apologies for the quality) over the Sudanese Sahara desert during my journey around the world by bicycle and I was wondering if anyone could help me identify it.

Many thanks

Steve - http://www.cyclingthe6.blogspot.com

Steve,
First, good on you for actually carrying out such an ambitious feat!
Second, much work is being done on the relationships between Black and Red Kite taxa. For example, in
"Scheider, J, M Wink, M Stubbe, S Hille and W Wiltschko. 2004. Phylographic relationships of the Black Kite Milvus migrans. In: Chancellor, RD and B-U Meyburg (Eds). Raptors Worldwide. pp.467-472. WWGBP/MME, Budapest,"
they confirmed that the southern African parasitus is closer to Red Kite M. milvus than to M. migrans, but Johnson et al 2006 revealed differences between parasitus and aegyptius populations; perhaps the former may be closer to Red Kite and the latter to Black Kite.
There is an inference that the actual distributions of some of these taxa are imprecisely known, possibly because earlier confident assumptions made about distribution had been made solely on limited and perhaps inconsistent sets of ID characters. From the relatively tiny amount of DNA research amongst kites in remote regions (and from such research into other species), it cannot be excluded that some taxa may occur over much wider areas than previously thought. If this is true, then the relationships between taxa may be complex, but certainly would have to be revised. I await publication of: "Scheider, J., Wink, M., Wiltschko, W., Stubbe, M.: Zur Phylogenie und Taxonomie der Schwarzmilan- Subspezies. In "Populationsökologie von Greifvogel- und Eulenarten" (in press)."
MJB
Reference
Johnson, JA, RT Watson and DP Mindell. 2006. Prioritizing conservation: does the Cape Verde Kite exist? Proc. R. Soc. B.272: 1365-1371.
 
It's surely a Black Kite (Red Kite would never occur in Sudan), but I can't decide which subspecies, probably aegyptius. This should be in the id forum really.
 
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I have learned from experience not to trust distribution maps in places where there are few birders. I work and bird in Libya and the maps aren't good to put it mildly. So my recommendation is not to think in terms of known maps. So if I saw this in isolation (without knowing the location) I would say red kite.

Rob T www.birdingforalark.blogspot.com
 
Here is a Yellow-billed Kite I photographed a few weeks ago at a site just south of Khartoum. As you can see, it is very similar to the bird we are discussing. The deeper fork to the tail and the plumage differences are presumably what prompted the split from Black Kite. As discussed in previous posts (that referred to them as Black Kite subspecies), there are two subspecies Milvus aegyptus aegyptus (a passage migrant in Sudan) and Milvus aegyptus parasiticus (a common resident in Sudan). I don't know how to tell the two subspecies apart.
Tom
 

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Having seen Tom's picture and the fact that my second guideline of IDing is trust the local man so I am switching my vote to Black Kite. I was a bit unhappy my first call (Red Kite) because of the lack of pronounced fork on the tail anyway

PS: My first guideline is don't trust the distribution maps. Its works in Libya ;-)

my blog
 
PS: My first guideline is don't trust the distribution maps. Its works in Libya ;-)

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I'm totally with you on that one Rob, at least in the developing world. Speaking of distribution maps, I was looking at the distribution of Yellow-billed Kite and I was surprised not to see them in Libya. It seems that they are mostly Sub-Saharan, with just a narrow distribution along the Nile up to Egypt. They are so common here that it seems odd to imagine them not being common everywhere in North Africa.

Tom
 
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