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  1. Brahminy_n.costa Wingspan (120 cm) by N. Costa

Brahminy Kite

Haliastur indus


  • Brahminy kites are medium sized birds of prey common in coastal areas.
  • Adult brahminy kites have an unmistakable white head and chest with a chestnut brown coloured body. They have dark coloured eyes and a strongly hooked, yellow beak. The tail is relatively short and can have white tips.
  • Size:  male- 45cm; female- 51cm


Diet: Kites are predators/scavengers and commonly eat dead animals (carrion) and fish washed onshore.  They also steal prey from other birds.

What to Observe

Record adult birds only
  • Presence
  • Feeding 
  • Courting/mating
  • Bird on nest 

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Brahminy kites are predator/scavengers and commonly eat dead animals (carrion) and fish washed up on beaches or steal prey from other birds. They are an important predator /scavenger in coastal areas and their presence can indicate a healthy ecosystem. 

When To Look

Throughout the year

Where To Look

  • Brahminy kites are coastal birds and can normally be found along shore lines, estuaries and in mangrove swamps. They can sometimes be seen over forests and along rivers.
  • Carnarvon WA, NT, QLD, NSW, possibly northern Victoria.


The map below displays the accumulated observations of these species as reported by ClimateWatch observers, together with the layer showing how the range of the species might change between now and 2085, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, and green areas where the species range might expand.


Slater, P. Slater, P. and Slater, R. (1988). The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. Lansdowne-Rigby Publishers NSW, Australia.


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  1. What Else?

    Juvenile brahminy kites are easy to confuse with many other birds of prey, so record only on adults which are easier to identify. Ospreys, whistling kites and black-breasted kites can all look similar when on the wing; however, brahminy kites can be distinguished by their dark ‘fingered’ wingtips, chestnut brown wings and body that is half white and half brown.  

  1. Did You Know?

    They are widespread throughout tropical Asia.

    They can also be found scavenging at waste at tips and roadsides, which in the long term may cause detrimental effects on the brahminy’s health.