Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Black Kite Invasion and Eastern Grass Owl on Sunshine Coast

Black Kite is one of the rarer raptors in south-east Queensland, becoming much more numerous west and north of the region. I was surprised therefore to come across about 20 birds while birding today with Jim Sneddon in the Bli Bli area of the Sunshine Coast. I've not seen the species in the three years that I've been living on the Sunshine Coast. Some of the kites were roosting together in Maleleuca tree-tops, as in the image above.

The kites included this adult with the bird behind it seemingly in immature plumage. The birds were feeding around an area of grassland which had recently been burned.

The kites were watched as they flew from the burned grassland to other fires in the surrounding cane farms up to a couple of kilometres away. The presence of fire is the only explanation for the birds turning up here, but how they detected the fires is a mystery.

The Black Kites were associating with unusually large numbers of Whistling Kites, with as many as 12 Whistling Kites in the air at once. Other raptors seen included Spotted Harrier and quite a few Black-shouldered Kites.

In the evening we enjoyed fine views of a pair of Eastern Grass Owls in grassland in the area at a site where I had not previously seen them. This brings to eight the number of sites where I have seen Eastern Grass Owl on the Sunshine Coast. One of the birds we saw - presumably the larger, darker female - is in the image above, by Jim Sneddon.

Here is another image by Rob Hutchinson, probably of a paler male bird. 


  1. The four black kites in the one tree is an amazing photo - what a lucky sighting!

  2. It is a mystery as to how such a concentration of Black Kites was able to somehow detect the grass fires on the coast

  3. Hi Greg, I think I met up with you one afternoon when the Kites were there. I went back the next day and there were so many. I had at least a dozen in my sights. Got some nice perched shots. I also got the pair of Spotted Harriers further down the road in the short cane fields. What an absolute thrill it was. Thanks for your info that day, it inspired me to look more closely.

  4. Nice to meet you Adrienne... I was a bit preoccupied that day so hopefully we can chat a bit more if I run into you again


    If you are interested Greg, this was my sighting the next day