The bird is charecterized by the round, kitish head with red eyes, white body, bright red eyes with black highlights, and black wings. It is regularly seen in open country, deserted scrublands and in open cultivation, perched on roadside electric or telephone cables, tree branches without a lot of leaves, and most often on high-tension electric lines.
In flight the bird is very elegant -- the long, black-tipped wings are held out with the primaries tapering to a pointed edge. The flight is relatively slow, and the bird hovers over open areas with their tail feathers fanned out, wings flapping, as it seeks out prey below.
Though sexes are alike, juvenile kites have orange eyes and white tips to the wing feathers. The Black-winged Kite feeds on insects, rodents, reptiles and, when opportunity permits, smaller birds.
Text and photos: Sandeep Somasekharan