Kites are large birds of prey with forked tails and long narrow angled-back wings. Although wild, kites have adapted to civilization by hunting for "prey" killed by road traffic.
Milvus migrans – Milan Noir
The term "medium-sized" can be deceptive. The black kite is just a bit smaller than an Egyptian Vulture, and about the same size as buzzards and ospreys (see Bird Sizes). It's wingspan is around 170 cm.
Some books say the black kite is common near human habitation, but we've seen them mostly out on the open spaces of the Camargue. We've seem them even closer (flying much lower) in the Var departement (between Cannes and Marseille.
One black kite, that we encountered June 2008 in the Var, seemed to be hunting the fields just above us, only about 10-15 m high. It sat in a tree at the edge of the woods, crying "creeee, cree-cree-cree",then would launch out to "hunt" the fields very near us. One possibility is that, instead of hunting, it was trying to warn us away from its nest.
Near water; open fields and meadows, hills and plains; the edge of forest areas.
Rodents, lizards, young birds, earthworms.
Milvus milvus – Milan Royal
The Red Kite has an obviously forked tail, most distinctive when soaring. Reddish colored, with very pale head, and a light patch on the underwings.
Wooded areas or fields with scattered trees.