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Black-shouldered Kite

Common name of an elegant, medium-sized raptor with the former scientific designation Elanus caeruleus. Since recently it has been listed as Elanus axillaris, a name originally used for the Black-winged Kite and which is growingly being used to refer to the Black-shouldered Kite. This 28-35 centimeter tall hawk is easily recognized by its very light plumage and long pointed wings with black on the shoulder (fig.). It is overall very pale grey with a white head and white underparts. Adults have dark reddish-ruby eyes, while juveniles (fig.) have yellow irises, a streaked crown, a back which is brown tinged with white tips, and a buff breast wash. This common resident is widespread throughout Thailand and can frequently be seen hovering over cultivated plains and other open areas, such as rice paddies, hunting for small rodents and reptiles, as well as for large insects. In Thai, it is known as yih-ao khao, meaning ‘white hawk’. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.