Mystery Bird: Black Kite, Milvus migrans

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[Mystery bird] Black Kite, Milvus migrans, photographed at Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 23 January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D2X, with 600 mm lens with 1.4 extender, ISO 320, 1/350 sec f/5.6.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

You've seen this African species before, but may not remember, but there are plenty of family members in North America that you are familiar with, so if you cannot identify this species, I would be pleased if you can tell me the names of at least three North American family members.

Review all mystery birds to date.

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Milvus aegyptius parasitus

Kit-shaped hawky body raptor thingie, mostly brown, yellow bill. Subspecies parasitus because it is in Ngorongoro.

Yes, it looks like the yellow-billed kite.But I don't know much about Africian raptors.

Yes, Greg's nailed this one.

Thanks for the i.d., Greg--I tried to find a flight picture of a raptor with lots of black in its wings and a yellow/white bill (and maybe a forked tail?)--you said it was a subspecies--just out of curiosity: what(and where) is it sub-specific to?

Hello Murray, parasitus is the sub-Saharan subspecies. There at least 12 subspecies recognised and this one is sometimes "lumped" with aegyptius as a full species "Yellow-billed Kite" as mentioned by Lydia.

Yeah, the subspecies are probably overstated as is often the case with African animals (mammals and birds, anyway) that live across a large area. Most species are initiallhy ID'd (from a European perspective) by a South African based naturalist, a "British East Africa" based naturalist, the Belgian Congo, or either French or English West African researchers. That sort of mix can lead to some confusion and subspecies are often the outcome of that.

At one poinit there were a couple dozen subspecies of leopard. Today there are eight or nine.