Kite Courtship

June 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

White-tailed kites, besides being among the most beautiful raptors in North America, are especially enjoyable to observe when they perform their elaborate courtship rituals.  In addition to frequent mating, they solidify their bond by exchanging food: the male kite catches a prey item and presents it to the female. In the photos below, the exchange occurs on a branch, but this act often takes place in mid-air.


White-tailed Kites mating:

White-tailed Kites, matingWhite-tailed Kites, mating


Here the male kite is seen landing with vole.  Instead if eating it, he waits for his mate:

Male White-tailed Kite, with preyMale White-tailed Kite, with preyThe male kite arrives with some food which he intends to present to his mate as a courtship offering.


The female kite (right) soon arrives:

White-tailed Kites, courting pairWhite-tailed Kites, courting pairThe female kite arrives to accept the food offering from her mate.


The male kite (left) releases his grasp on the vole, allowing the female to take it:

White-tailed Kites, food exchangeWhite-tailed Kites, food exchangeDuring courtship, the male kite presents food to the female. Here the female (right) is taking the offering from the male. This ritual often occurs while in flight.


The female kite has obtained the vole, completing the food exchange ritual:

White-tailed Kites, courting pairWhite-tailed Kites, courting pairThe male kite (left) had caught the vole and presented it to the female as a courtship offering. Here the female has just received (grabbed) the offering. She will soon eat the prey.


The female proceeds to consume her meal:

White-tailed Kites, feedingWhite-tailed Kites, feedingThe female kite proceeds to consume the food offering as the male looks on.

To see a food exchange in mid-air, have a look here.






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