Elanus caeruleus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae

Scientific Name: Elanus caeruleus
Species Authority: (Desfontaines, 1789)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Black-winged Kite, Black-shouldered Kite
French Elanion blanc
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Angola (Angola); Bangladesh; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Kenya; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Portugal; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda; Viet Nam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Afghanistan; Austria; Belgium; Brunei Darussalam; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Hong Kong; Israel; Italy; Kuwait; Lebanon; Madagascar; Netherlands; Oman; Poland; Qatar; Romania; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:26600000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Behaviour This species is widely distributed from 44ᵒN to 35ᵒS, across the Afrotropical and Indomalayan regions, with marginal occurrence in the Western Palearctic and north Australasia (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Population densities range from rare to locally abundant. Numbers are increasing in Iberia (Snow and Perrins, 1998), coinciding with the clearance of oak woodlands and understory vegetation (Shirihai et al., 2000). It is very rare in north west Africa and north Borneo, and has decreased in Java (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). The species is generally sedentary in the Palearctic, with some movements to more open habitats during winter (Snow and Perrins, 1998). Juveniles will generally disperse from natal grounds. In tropical regions individuals are more nomadic, undertaking seasonal migrations with the rains and in response to prey numbers. Movements can be eruptive in both tropical Africa and India (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). The species is recorded as a vagrant in the Middle East, but there are no records of regular passage in this region (Shirihai et al., 2000). Habitat The species occupies relatively open habitats at a range of altitudes (0-750m in West Palearctic; 0-2000m in southern Asia; 0-3000m in Africa), ranging from semi-desert to forest margins and clearings within densely forested areas. It is generally absent in continuous forest tracts and steep mountainous areas and will opportunistically use areas cleared after fires (Snow and Perrins, 1998). In the non-breeding season, communal roosts in trees or reed beds have been known to host up to 500 individuals (although most frequently 15-20), with birds dispersing to individual territories during the day (del Hoyo et al., 1994). Diet The species’ prey comprise small grassland mammals (up to 90g), reptiles, birds and insects, hunting its quarry from both a perch and hovering vantage, as well as quartering the ground and hawking insects in flight. It will often hunt during dawn and dusk (del Hoyo et al., 1994). Breeding Site Nests are made of small twigs lined with finer material, and are located in tree branches 3-20m above the ground, usually in open areas (del Hoyo et al., 1994). The same tree may be occupied in successive years although new nests are usually built each year. The breeding season spans February to August in the West Palearctic region, whilst in Africa and India breeding begins at the end of the wet season, with the species double-brooding according to food availability (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Management Information Although there has been a recent expansion of the species’ range in northern Egypt, historically numbers have fluctuated, possibly as a result of the application of rodent poisons and pesticides which may be in use throughout its range. In general, the species is able to exploit disturbed or cleared areas and increase its breeding productivity under favourable prey conditions and so, on the whole, it is successful.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):6.6
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is likely to be threatened by the use of rodenticides and pesticides within its range (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). No other threats are documented (del Hoyo et al., 1994).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Elanus caeruleus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22695028A40841763. . Downloaded on 03 December 2016.
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