The Black Kite often resides along coasts and near lakes and marshes but is also seen in mountainous areas as well as residential areas. It can be commonly seen year round throughout Japan; however, it is a rare winter visitor to the Nansei islands, the southernmost islands of Japan. With its wings spread, the female is more than 160 cm wide. As a rule, females in the family Accipitridae are larger in size than males. Unlike most hawks, which act alone or in pairs, the Black Kite, also gathers in large flocks to roost and feed.
Play birds singing
Besides their small population, hawks are very cautious and often fly high in the sky. To find them you would do well to take note of crows. Hawks can be identified by how they often glide in the sky and have a different way of flapping their wings than crows, which flap widely and slowly. Among hawks, the Black Kite is the most common and the easiest to recognize. It has some easily noticeable features, such as its larger size (other hawks and falcons are ordinarily the same size as or smaller than crows), its slower flight speed, and its frequent circling.
The Black Kite does not actively hunt. This is in part related to its quite a few population and flocking nature; however, Black Kites mostly scavenge dying or dead prey, which is the reason why the bird is seen as being lower in rank than other hawks in Japan.
Each living creature has a name other than its scientific name, which is common all over the world. In Japan people call the Black Kite “Tobi” or “Tombi,” and neither is wrong. “Tobi” is used in textbooks and in bird guides because in Japan the species name used by the Ornithological Society of Japan is the standard in such scientific materials. As far as English names of birds go, a bird may be called by a certain name in Britain but by a different one in the United States, and in Japan it occasionally happens that a bird's English name is changed (“Tancho” was changed from Japanese Crane to Red-crowned Crane).
The Black Kite is one of the most vocal in the family Accipitridae. Many hawks make a sharp call of “Pyi-,” but the Black Kite adds “Hyoro-hyoro-hyoro” to that, making it easy to identify.
This fledgling is almost the same size and shape as an adult. White patches on the underwing are a distinguishing feature of the Black Kite, including juveniles; however, a fledgling has more distinctive pale parts around its dark brown plumage than an adult does.