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.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Brisbane's Square-tailed Kite Nest

Square-tailed Kite - Mt Coot-tha
It's not every day that the nest of one of Australia's rarer raptors is found within a few kilometres of the CBD of one of its big capital cities, so Brisbane is blessed with the successful nesting of Square-tailed Kites at Mt Coot-tha.

Square-tailed Kite
The birds were detected nesting in a Spotted Gum about 20 metres up in June. They have reared a single chick and when I visited the nest this week the youngster was in fine form, fully fledged and close to leaving.

Square-tailed Kite
The extraordinary thing about the nest site is that is located over a busy road, with a constant procession of vehicles, joggers and bikes passing underneath. The birds are completely unperturbed and indeed appear to take an interest in proceedings.

Square-tailed Kite
I had the nest under observation for 3 hours. During that time, an adult was always nearby, either in the nest tree or in an adjacent tree. One adult was on sentry duty for two hours before the second took over. The adult that was away from the nest was seen regularly, quartering the tree-tops in the surrounding open eucalypt forest or flying overhead, evidently in search of prey.

Square-tailed Kite
The adult kite attending the nest ignored potential prey in the surrounding trees as Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Friarbirds and others went about their business. The adult was left unmolested while perched near the nest but when it took flight or flew nearby, the kite would be mobbed by Pied Currawongs or Torresian Crows.

Juvenile Square-tailed Kite on Nest
The young bird, evidently hungry, called incessantly while I was there. The adult called just once, when a Torresian Crow landed in the nest tree. The kite crouched low with tail up, chattering vigorously until the crow left. The nest attracted the attention of the constant stream of passers-by, many of whom expressed interest in the birds; some folk told me they had frequently seen the birds during regular walks.

Adult Square-tailed Kite on nest
I was shown a Square-tailed Kite nest in a Spotted Gum near Bundaberg in 2012 by Eric Zillmann and Trevor Quested (see here). Eric told me that the kites had nested in the same area for 17 consecutive years. The birds usually build a different nest each year but would occasionally top up an old nest to use again.

Square-tailed Kite Adult & Juvenile together
The kites have nested also at Mt Coot-tha in recent years. Hopefully they will continue to do so. 


  1. Hi Greg, is the nest area easy to find/access? I'll be visiting Brisbane in a fortnight and will make an effort to try and view the birds, however I'm unfamiliar with the area. Thanks, Jon

    1. Jon, Pls email me - see address on Facebook badge on right side of blog