The Red Kite's Year

The Red Kite's Year

by Ian Carter, Dan Powell


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'thoroughly recommended' —Country-side magazine
The Red Kite (Milvus milvus) – one of our most elegant and impressive birds of prey – has a varied and dramatic history in Britain. Having been driven perilously close to extinction, it has now made a welcome comeback, in part through one of the most successful reintroduction projects ever undertaken. This beautifully illustrated book follows the birds through the ups and downs of the year, from the rigours of raising young during the warm summer months to the struggle for survival in the depths of winter.
Interspersed with the monthly accounts, are chapters on the history of the Red Kite in Britain, the reintroduction programme, the threats it still faces, and its status elsewhere in Europe. Red Kite biology is explored from nest construction, egg laying and nest defence, through to juveniles leaving the nest and learning to live independently. The book concludes with an overview of Red Kite status throughout their range.
With a foreword by Mark Avery.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784272005
Publisher: Pelagic Publishing
Publication date: 05/18/2019
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 6.19(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Ian Carter worked as an ornithologist for Natural England and its predecessors for over 25 years before taking early retirement. He has a long history of involvement with raptor conservation, including the reintroduction of the Red Kite.
Dan Powell is an award-winning wildlife artist and naturalist, whose drawings and paintings have been published in numerous books and journals.

Table of Contents

Foreword Mark Avery xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction 1

January 11

Winter food 11

Coping with severe weather 13

February 18

The first signs of spring 18

The pair bond and age of first breeding 18

Courtship behaviour and calling 20

Male or female? 25

History in Britain 26

Early history 26

A decline in fortunes 29

The road to recovery - Red Kite protection in Wales 32

March 35

Faithfulness to breeding sites 35

Nest building 35

Nest spacing and breeding density 41

April 42

Final touches to the nest 42

Eggs and incubation 48

Nest decoration 49

Defence of the nest 51

The Red Kite reintroduction programme 53

Early reintroduction attempts 53

Planning the restoration to England and Scotland 54

Collecting young and care in captivity 55

Release into the wild 58

Progress so far 61

Further release projects 64

The wider benefits of reintroduction 65

The future 72

May 73

Care of small chicks 73

Studies of food in the breeding season 73

Foraging range and habitat use 76

June 78

The growing brood 78

Preparations for the first flight 80

July 82

Leaving the nest 82

Towards independence 84

Red Kite adoptions 84

Measuring breeding success 85

Threats and problems 91

Illegal persecution 91

Accidental poisoning 95

Egg collecting 100

Collisions and accidents 101

Power lines 103

August 106

Fending for themselves 106

Plumage differences 106

The annual moult 108

A lull in activity 110

September 111

Wanderlust 112

The Red Kite as a migrant 112

The use of new technology 113

To feed or not to feed? 115

Changes in legislation 115

Red Kite feeding stations 118

Feeding in gardens 119

October 124

The communal roost 124

Attendance patterns 125

The daily routine 126

November 128

The benefits of communal roosting 128

Social interactions and play at roosts 132

December 135

A wildlife spectacle 135

The influence of weather on roosting behaviour 136

World status 143

Northern Europe 144

Northwest Europe 145

Central and eastern Europe 145

Southern Europe 146

The future 149

Further reading 152

Sources of further information 155

Species mentioned in the text 156

Index 157

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