Red Kite Birds Return to UK After 160 Years

Ninety red kites are going to be released in part of the Lake District in England over the next three years. They will be released in the Grizedale Forest, an area of about 24 square kilometers near Coniston Water. Red kites were exterminated in various parts of the UK, as they were considered to be “pests” and a threat to expanding agriculture. In the 16th century, red kites were listed under the Vermin Acts, which required them to be killed. By the late 18th century, there were no breeding red kites left in England or Scotland. Rural Wales is where several survived, with the assistance of some animal lovers, who tried to protect them.

Now, due to conservation efforts and breeding programs, reportedly Wales has about 600 breeding pairs, and they are being reestablished in various parts of England. (In Scotland it was reported this year, there are a small number of red kites, but it is suspected they are being poisoned illegally.)

Wildlife ranger Iain Yoxall says of the red kites, “They are a large spectacular bird and have a wing span of around 5ft.” Red kites have a reddish-brown body, very long wings, and a forked tail. They only weigh about 2-3 pounds. Earthworms, mice, rabbits, carrion and other small animals make up a large portion of their diet. Watch the videos below to see the majestic birds in action.

The reintroduction project at Grizedale Forest is the ninth red kite expansion effort in the UK. The project aims to establish a population that reproduces for many generations and increases the population beyond ninety animals. Ireland has a similar red kite project in the Wicklow Mountains. Red kites had been exterminated in that country as well.

Image Credit: DaveHamster

54 comments

Jackie B.
Jackie B.7 years ago

Can any one tell me if the red kite would kill my pet rabbits, as i have them loose in my back garden at times. Had one in my garden tonight i think trying to kill a dove. I have meduim and large sized rabbits?

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Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

Predatory birds, like kites and hawks, are beautiful. I love to watch their gracefulness when they are flying. On the other hand, they are not so lovely when they hunt smaller birds, like doves, for dinner and rip them to shreds in your backyard. Sometimes, nature just isn't so pretty.

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Debbie Z.
Debra Z7 years ago

Why would anyone poison or outlaw such a magnificent creature? Stupid humans!

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Karin Sch
Karin S7 years ago

Thanks!

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Bonni Fellows
Bonni Fellows7 years ago

Gives me hope. Thank you.

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Roland F.
Roland Fox7 years ago

Despite their beauty to us Kite feathers would be a very unlikely choice for an Edwardian ladies' hat. These ladies preferred Egret feathers. Kite feathers would be avoided by "fine ladies" as these otherwise attractive raptors had another less attractive name "Shite" hawks (as it rhymed with Kite?) due to their unattractive scavenging habits. Personally I have never seen one feeding on road kill but in India there is a huge population of Black Kites in some places like fish markets at closing time and other even less desirable locations.Apparently Black Kites have been said to be the most common raptor worldwide. If you forget their diet, like the old-world vultures, they are amazingly graceful in flight.

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Anja N.
Justin R7 years ago

What a spectacular bird.

I am sure many of their feathers ended up on some woman's hat, such should never be allowed again.

Hopefully these dated Vemin Laws are finally extinct.

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Shin Takahashi
Shin Takahashi7 years ago

What a marvelous news,it's unbelievable but true. We had have chance to see all kinds of Kites over our sky but very rare now.
Wishing all birds can fly all over the sky forever..

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Sally D.
Sally D7 years ago

This is extremely heartwarming news for these beautiful birds of prey. I love to watch birds of all kinds soaring gracefully across the skies, such a lovely sight. I am praying that the numbers of the Red Kite Birds continues to increase.

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Roland F.
Roland Fox7 years ago

Two other birds made extinct in England have also been reintroduced into the wild - Great Bustards on Salisbury Plain and today European Cranes in the Somerset Levels. Sea Eagles and Ospreys have also been successfully reestablished in Scotland and are moving to England. Wild Boars, Reindeer and Beavers are also back. Some people want Wolves and Brown Bears back but others don't despite the growing deer population that could sustain them because they fear they would decimate farmers' sheep too.

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