I was on the way to drop my son off at school a few days ago when he exclaimed, “Dad, there is bird of prey sitting on the electric wires.” Noting the place, on my way back I stopped and looked about. Sure enough, at exactly the same spot, a small bird sat on the wire. The bird of prey was the Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus). Rushing home, I pulled out the camera and made my way back to the spot. No way is it still going to be sitting there, I thought to myself. After all, it’s hardly sitting around waiting for me to photograph it.
To my surprise, when I walked back to the electric wire 15 minutes later, the kite was still sitting there, as though waiting for me! The black-winged kite is a really good-looking raptor (bird of prey). Smaller than a pigeon, it has grey wings with black wing tips, which gives it its name. On its shoulder is a black patch. Thrilled at finding the bird, I kept taking photographs, and gradually moved closer to the kite. It seemed completely unafraid of me, and finally I got to a position when I was no more than 15 feet from the bird. Wherever I moved, the kite followed me, turning its head this way and that, peering at me with its gorgeous wine red eyes. It almost seemed to me that the bird was posing, and saying, “Don’t I look handsome? Take some pictures of me. Make me famous!” When I had taken dozens of photographs, and finally moved away slowly, the kite almost seemed disappointed that I was done!
Standing a little distance away, I continued to watch the kite. Finally, it felt that it had posed long enough, and took to the wing. The kite is a very graceful flier, with slim pointed wings. As it flew over me, it seemed to be performing, zipping this way and that. At one stage, the kite swooped over the fields beside the road and began to hover. With its body angled at 450, the bird hovered at one place, rapidly beating its wings, in the most elegant way possible. This is the kite’s hunting technique — it hovers over a spot, almost stationary, while it looks for prey. If it spots prey to feed on, with a graceful swoop it pounces on it. The kite then carries it to a safe spot and proceeds to gorge on its tasty meal.