Brahminy kite

   ›      ›   Brahminy kite - Haliastur indus.

The brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) belongs to the family Accipitridae.
The brahminy kite species is distributed in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, southeast Asia and Australia.

Taxonomy of Brahminy kite

  • Scientific Name: Haliastur indus
  • Common Name: Brahminy kite
  • French: Milan sacré; German: Brahminenweih; Spanish: Milano brahmán;
  • Other names: Falco Indus Boddaert, 1783; red-backed sea-eagle;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Boddaert, 1783
Haliastur indus was earlier included in genus Falco. The four recognized subspecies are: H. i. indus (Boddaert, 1783), H. i. intermedius Blyth, 1865, H. i. girrenera (Vieillot, 1822) and H. i. flavirostris Condon & Amadon, 1954.


The brahminy kite species is a medium sized bird. The female kite is slightly larger than the male. The male measures 45 to 50 cm in length and weighs 400 to 650 grams.

The female kite weighs 430 to 700 grams. The wingspan is 110 to 125 cm. The adult has chestnut back, wings and belly. The head and breast have a contrasting white plumage.

It has relatively short wings when compared to other kites in the region and the tail is rounded. The underwing carpal region has squarish shaped pale patch. Its call sounds a mewing keeyew.
Indian birds - Image of Brahminy kite - Haliastur indus
Indian birds - Image of Brahminy kite - Haliastur indus



The brahminy kite species inhabits coastal plains, estuaries, rivers, lakes, swamps, marshes, reservoirs, rice fields and urban areas.

Feeding habits

These brahminy kite species feed mainly on dead fish, crabs and carrion. They also catch and feed on live preys such as small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. They are known to snatch feed from other birds.


The breeding season of these kite species is from December to April in Asia. They build nest with sticks and twigs on trees. The nest contains a clutch of two eggs. Both the partners take part in building nest. The female kite appears to do much of incubating. Both the parents take part in rearing the chicks.


The brahminy kite subspecies H. i. indus is distributed in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and South China. The subspecies H. i. intermedius is distributed in Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. The subspecies H. i. girrenera is distributed in New Guinea and Australia. The subspecies H. i. flavirostris is distributed in Feni Islands, Green Island and Solomon Islands.

Movement Patterns

The brahminy kite species are resident birds in their ranges. Seasonal local movements may be made in search of food and water.

Status and conservation

The global brahminy kite population is estimated to be about 100,000 individual birds. These birds have very wide range and considered least vulnerable. Habitat loss and use of agricultural pesticides are the main threats in their conservation.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these brahminy kite species and has listed them as "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Haliastur indus
Species:H. indus
Binomial name:Haliastur indus
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia;
Feeding habits:small mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and carrion;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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Image source:
Image Author: Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin from Chalakudy, India | Image License: cc-by-sa-2.0
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