Saturday Evening Post #197: Banished

How quickly Belle and Bronson’s young kites have grown.

Yesterday, in the sunshine I might add, we arrived and expected to see them in the adjacent area. But hunt as we might, there was no sign.
Then EE spied them way down the paddock, a long way from the nest.
And for reasons that shall be come obvious, the parents seem to have given them their marching orders.

They have been on the wing just about four weeks. Normally they would be ready to leave, if not gone by about week six, so these young are hopefully well enough advanced to look after themselves.

More searching for the third one, and eventually it turned up a little later in the morning to sit with this pair. One had flown up to the home nesting area, but a very speedy adult flew in a direct, straight line to intercept it, and with some outstretched claws and calling, the young quickly got the message and returned to their end of the paddock.

I read somewhere that the attrition rate for young kites is very high, can’t relocate the details, but it was over 50% that would succumb to an accident, or predator, or starvation within the first year.
(Please don’t quote me on this, and if I find the reference, I will update here)
Once Bronson stops feeding them, there is no further interaction with the parents and they just move on to find food and establish their own territory.

And the reason for their banishment?

It soon became obvious that Belle had a new nest on the go. Normally she would disappear for a few weeks, or month before making a new attempt, but the pair are well on the way to finalising the project and the young kites are unwanted as competition for food.

During the coming week I’ll put up a blog page with some of the actitity from this hatching.

In the meantime, I found this link online of a reseach paper about nesting Black-shouldered Kites up near Tamworth, “Foraging, Breeding Behaviour and Diet of a Family of Black- shouldered Kites Elanus axillaris near Tamworth, New South Wales”

Now some of their findings suggest that Belle and Bronson have either not bothered to read the paper, or the Black-shouldered Kite Instruction book as some of their behaviour differs from the paper’s birds. Still its a fascinating piece of reseach and more power to Stephen Debus and his team for the hours spent in the field and then in collating the findings.