From the FieldNotes Book: A Morning’s Practice

How quickly time moves on for these young kites. A few weeks ago they were peeking out of the nest, then launched into flight on some of the most windy days we’ve had this year.
And when we arrived on this particular morning they were now fully-fledged (pun intended) hunters.

Bronson, the male was no longer providing handouts. It was literally every bird for itself. They had chosen to sit together for what was probably the very last time in the early morning sun and scan the surrounding paddock for a likely meal. Most of their hunting as we watched was for skinks and small prey, but no doubt in the next day or two they would have skilled up enough for the real thing. Mice

Bronson flew past at one stage, perhaps checking they were still in the area, but they knew not to pester him for food and it was a silent flyover. They went back to the job in hand.

A couple of days later on our next visit, they were nowhere to be seen, all the usual roosting spots were empty. We caught a glimpse far across the freeway of one sitting, then hunting and flying off with its prize.

Their time had come to explore the world as fully developed young birds.

It is both a sad and also an exciting time to share their graduation and to farewell them.


From the Fieldnotes Book: Learning to Hunt

After a pretty windy start the young Black-shouldered Kites have quickly advanced to developing both their hunting skill and their ground tactics.
It might just me wanting to explain their process, but I think that the first few days on the wing in the very strong gale force winds gave them an advantage in learning the flying techniques. It is not unusual to see them leave the home tree and in a few wing flicks they are nearly a kilometre away down the paddock. So we miss all of the action happening from where we stand.

But, the other morning on what can only be described as “picture perfect”, they were working closer in and going through the paces of hovering and dropping out of the sky into the grass. Now, any mice there were pretty safe as they don’t quite have the skills to finalise the ‘catch’. However it won’t be long I suspect before they make the necesary connections and then they’ll be on the way to independance.

So here are a few highlights from the action.

Dropping from a hovering position. The wings folded up and the legs beginning to tuck up.
No Score. But at this stage they just pull out above the grass.
Getting serious now with the legs coming down
Look out Mice. Here I Come.
A much more serious attempt with the wings folded up and dropping vertically
Complete Concentration
Once again pulling out just above the grass
Really getting into the grass