May 08, 2021
Black-Winged Kite or Elanus caeruleus, was one of the raptor species identified during the Raptor Watch 2021 by Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) team.
Raptor Watch, which also known as migratory raptor monitoring is conducted during fall in March or April in Kampar Peninsula. RER has been participating in this activity since 2016. During fall, as the northern hemisphere entering winter, raptors will fly to a warmer southern hemisphere.
For RER team, Raptor Watch is one of important activities to manage and monitor wildlife presence in its areas.
Raptor as an Umbrella Species
The word raptor is derived from Latin word which means seize, grab, or snatch. Raptors are carnivores which hunt smaller animals like mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, or even other birds.
In the wild, raptors serve as umbrella species which are important in the conservation and preservation of many other species at the ecosystem level.
The presence of raptors as apex predator indicate a healthy sign for an ecosystem because it means that there are plenty of prey species. And the abundance of prey species shows that the area is rich in biodiversity.
In other words, if there are any disturbance to the predators, it means that the whole ecosystem is under threat
Black-Winged Kite as a Protected Species
Measuring at around 30 cm, they have white, grey and black body color with red iris.
The Black-Winged Kite’s main habitat is open plains and semi-desert area such as in the sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia. But they can also be found in southern Europe and Western Asia.
The species preys on grasshoppers and crickets and other large insects, lizards and sometimes rats. They are also known to be very quiet with high-pitched calls or smooth whistle that sounds “whip whip). These calls are most notables during mating season.
Even though it is considered as Least Concern by IUCN, Elanus caeruleus is one of protected raptor species in Indonesia.
According to Government Regulation No. 7/1999, Black-Winged Kite is included in Appendix II which consists of list of species which are not threatened with extinction yet, but has high risk of extinction.
This species is one of most illegally traded raptor species. Under this reason, the government of Indonesia regulates the trade of this species
During the raptor watch on March and April 2021, RER team recorded 615 species of birds crossing the Kampar Peninsula. These birds consist not only migratory species, but also resident species.
Like last year’s oberservation, the most recorded species this year is Oriental Honey-Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) followed by Chinese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter soloensis).
As for Black-Winged Kite, we only managed to identify a single presence late in the afternoon, at the end of March, perching on a high tree.
Other species found included the resident species Changeable Hawk-Eagle Brontok (Nisaetus cirrhatus), Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus), White-Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliatus leucogaster), Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), dan Blue-Throated Bee-Eater (Merops viridis).