Spatial and Population Ecology of the Letter-winged Kite

A research project by Lisa and Peter Nunn

The reporting rate of Letter-winged Kites in the second Birds Australia Atlas was the lowest for all Australian raptors (Garnett et al. 2011). The global population has been estimated at 1000 individuals outside of boom periods, but this estimate is hard to verify given the small number of sightings recorded in some years and lack of knowledge about the movements of individuals. A better understanding of population size, core range and movement patterns is needed to properly assess the conservation status of this species.

This project will use colour banding, behavioural observations and genetic analysis to investigate the structure of breeding colonies and aspects such as frequency of breeding, the mating system, gender roles, immigration, relatedness within and between colonies, and age at first breeding. Annual surveying and monitoring will also be conducted to provide data for assessing population trends in this rarely-encountered species, while at the same time exploring potential threatening processes such as predation by feral cats. The use of GPS transmitters is planned to give insight into the spatial ecology of the species on a larger scale.

Sightings records can help build a picture of how this species uses the landscape, as well as inform population estimates. Current or historical sightings can be reported to All information will be gratefully received and kept strictly confidential.

A Letter-winged Kite in flight (Peter Nunn)





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