The black-eared kite

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A black-eared kite is seen hovering in the sky in Honghu Park in Luohu District on Oct. 30, 2021. 

Probably one of the most majestic birds you can see circling the skies of Shenzhen is the black-eared kite, a medium-sized bird of prey. With a black patch on their eyes and a short forked tail, it has a beautiful brown plumage, with part of the feathers adorned with black tips or mottled patterns.


A black-eared kite is seen catching a fish while in flight in Donghu Park in Luohu District on March 28, 2021.

Their wingspan reaches an impressive 1.5 meters and the bird normally measures about 55 cm. They use their yellow legs and dark claws to grab the prey with extraordinary accuracy while in flight.


Most of the time, you will see them soaring high in the sky. When it’s time to hunt, however, they will come lower and start gliding until they spot something. Watch carefully or you’ll miss it! They make a sudden free fall with retracted claws in order to catch their meal, often fish or some other small live animals like reptiles, birds or mammals.


A black-eared kite is seen hovering in the sky in Honghu Park in Luohu District on Oct. 24, 2021.

Breeding season around Shenzhen is during the winter months, when both parents will take part in building nests, incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks. Normally there are only two or three per clutch, aggressively protected by the parents if another animal attempts to approach the nest.


If you are interested in observing this fabulous species, visit the lakes at Honghu Park or Donghu Park in Luohu District. They usually come down to fish and circle above in the sky, within reach of people’s naked eyes.