Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Elanus caeruleus Desfontaines, 1789

Species:E. caeruleus
Common Names:Black-shouldered Kite, Black-winged Kite
Status:Common resident.


This is one of the most beautiful raptors in Singapore. It has black-and-grey plumage and red eyes.

Read more about the Accipitriformes order.
Read more about the Accipitridae family.

General Biology

Often seen in open country and grassland, usually hovering in mid-air or perched on an exposed branch. The make spectacular aerial displays, locking talons and somersalting downwards before disengaging and flying off. Aerial displays also come prior to copulation, together with courtship feeding. Mating has also been documented HERE. House Crows (Corvus splendens) regularly harass them as well as their nests, taking their eggs and chicks.


It hunts small mammals like rodents, bats, birds, reptiles and large insects. It has also been photographer catching a Garden Supple Skink (Lygosoma bowringii). Hunting from a perch, it makes a slow descent ending in a fast plunge at the prey. It also hovers .

Life Cycle

The nest is a huge platform of sticks and weeds lined with grass and lodged in the fork of a tall tree. Nest building has been documented HERE. The clutch of 3-4 eggs are incubated for 30-33 days with the chicks fledging after 30-35 days. The male feeds the fledglings while the female starts a new family with a different mate.


Thiollay, J. M. 1994. Family Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 2. New world vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 52-205.

Wang, L. K. 2011. Accipiters. Pp. 218–219. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

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