Whistling kite

As with all native species in the Northern Territory (NT), whistling kites are protected. 

It is illegal to kill or take a whistling kite from the wild without a permit. Read more about wildlife permits.

The whistling kite is also known as the whistling eagle, whistling hawk, chicken hawk and the kite hawk. 

It gets its name from its loud whistling call. 

It's a medium-sized bird of prey with a light brown head and belly. 

Its features are a mix of dark and pale brown and it has a long rounded tail. 

Females are slightly larger than males and grow up to 59cm with a wingspan of up to 120cm.


The whistling kite can be found across Australia, usually near water sources and open woodlands and plains. 

It preys on small mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and insects. It can also be a scavenger so can often be seen eating roadkill in the NT.

Breeding season is towards the end of the Wet Season, between February and May. 

The whistling kite builds its nest in tall eucalypt trees where it can lay clutches of one to four eggs. 

The eggs are incubated for 35 days, after which the parents care for the chicks for 45 to 55 days before the young can fly.


The whistling kite is classified as least concern in the NT. Read more about wildlife classification.

Destruction of wetlands is a potential threat to whistling kite populations.

Last updated: 01 September 2015

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