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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.
 Brahminy Kite compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Brahminy Kite compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



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.