Working for birds in Africa

Notes on breeding and food of Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans parasitus in Mali

p 125-133

During short surveys of the Inner Niger Delta, Mali, in January - February 2004 and 2005, all Black Kites Milvus migrans that were closely observed belonged to the subspecies parasitus (Yellow-billed Kite). Breeding was largely confined to around villages and permanent water, given suitable trees for nesting. Breeding was asynchronous, varying from still-deserted nest sites to non-breeding flocks, non-territorial behaviour near nests, pre-incubation behaviour, display, copulation, incomplete and completed clutches, and nestlings of seven days to four weeks old. Non-breeding pairs and deserted nest sites were typical of sites >5 km from permanent water. Possibly, such nests are occupied in the rainy season (core period July - August). Pairs in the Inner Delta timed their breeding cycle with the receding flood of the Niger (November - March). During a low flood (as in 2004 / 2005: maximum at Akka 4.11 m, i.e. 10,400 km inundated), apparently a larger proportion of pairs refrain from breeding in winter than during a high flood (as in 2003/2004: 4.96 m at Akka, 14,700 km2 inundated). Kites breeding in the Inner Niger Delta mainly fed on amphibians and fish, supplemented with birds and mammals. Most food was scavenged, with a high proportion of human waste. Local food bonanzas were readily exploited, as in Dentaka forest, where in 2005 many kites profited from mass mortality of Long-tailed Cormorants Phalacrocorax africanus and herons; only at this site was breeding of kites in full swing in January 2005.

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