Naledi and Nkorho Cams are down. We are working on solutions.

Kites - Elanus species information.

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Anonymous's picture
Kites - Elanus species information.


White-tailed Kite belong to the "Elanus" species. There are four recognized species of "Elanus" kites in the world. Between 1981 and 1994, all Elanus kites were grouped together under the name black-shouldered kite or Elanus caeruleus. After 1994, they were once again classified as separate species (3), described below.

BLACK-WINGED kite, Elanus caeruleus - mostly Africa, Asia
There are two subspecies of the black-winged kite.
One of these, Elanus caeruleus caeruleus can be found in most parts of lowland Africa, the extreme southwest regions of Europe, and the lowlands of many countries in southeastern Asia.
The other, Elanus caeruleus hypoleucos inhabits the lowlands of Malaysia, Philippines and New Guinea. (7)

BLACK-SHOULDERED kites, Elanus axillaries and scriptus - mostly Australia
Two species of the black-shouldered kite are found in Australia. The first, named, black-shouldered kite Elanus axillaries, lives in Australian savanna, grassland and open forests. Elanus scriptus, the letter-winged kite, is found in the interior of Australia in savanna areas, and along watercourses. (7)

WHITE-TAILED kite of the Americas, Elamus leucurus
The white-tailed kite Elanus leucurus, has two recognized sub-species: Elanus leucurus leucurus of South America, and the larger Elanus leucurus majusculus of North America.

Here is a picture of Elanus leucurus (White-tailed Kites) from Americas:

And if really interested, there is a set of WTK pictures here:

This came about because of an Africam bird here:

Anonymous's picture

Laughing out loud Yes Limpopo, grijze means grey. And Wouw is just the Dutch name of the species, like Kite is the English name...
btw, one pronounces Wouw like the English word wow Eye-wink

Landi, I'm puzzled like you! :shock: Yes, Roberts VII says Black-shouldered Kite - Elanus caeruleus only... but when I googled the species I found the same Wikipedia pages like Limpopo did...

(I use the online version of the Roberts VII list)

Anonymous's picture

Hi Landi,

When I wrote the essay, I referenced (edited):

Dunk, J. R. 1995. White-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus). The Birds of North America, No. 178. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Also, here are some other references:

Black-winged Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

Hope that helps.


Anonymous's picture

Hi Limpopo

Robert's VII (published 2005), the 'bible" of southern African birding still refers to Elanus caeruleus as the Black-shouldered Kite, yet your reference seems to refer to it as the Black-winged Kite.


Anonymous's picture

Hi Sparrow,

What does "Grijze Wouw" mean?
Although I know Afrikaans - I can only guess that Grizje could mean gray, but don't know what Wouw is.

PS. I researched this information when I did a life history essay for a bird course I did at a local College. I lifted the text right from that essay.

Anonymous's picture

Laughing out loud Thank you Limpopo, this is very interesting!
Btw, the Black-winged Kite - Elanus caeruleus caeruleus is called "Grijze Wouw" in Dutch... Eye-wink

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.