Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Threats according to BirdLife International:

The most pertinent threat to this species is illegal direct poisoning to kill predators of livestock and game animals (targetting foxes, wolves, corvids etc.)and indirect poisoning from pesticides and secondary poisoning from consumption of poisoned rodents by rodenticides spread on farmland to control vole plagues, particularly in the wintering ranges in France and Spain, where it is driving rapid population declines (A. Aebischer in litt. 2009); there is a strong correlation between rapid declines and those populations that winter in Spain (Carter 2007). The Spanish government released more than 1,500 tons of rodenticide-treated baits over about 500,000 ha to fight against a common vole plague in agricultural lands between August 2007 and April 2008; records of Red Kites dying by secondary poisoning in treated areas resulted (J. Vinuela in litt. 2009). Illegal poisoning is also a serious threat to the species in north Scotland, with 40% of birds found dead between 1989 and 2006 having been killed by poisoning (Smart et al. 2010). In France populations disappeared at the same rate as conversion from grasslands to cereal crops (P. Tourret in litt. 2009). The decline of grazing livestock and farming intensification leading to chemical pollution, homogenization of landscapes and ecological impoverishment also threatens the species (Knott et al. 2009). Wind turbines are a potentially serious future threat (Duchamp 2003, Mammen et al. 2009, P. Tourret in litt. 2009) and more research needs to be conducted to assess the level of threat windfarms pose to the species. Other less significant threats include electrocution and collision with powerlines (Mionnet 2007, P. Tourret in litt. 2009),  hunting and trapping (Mionnet 2007, P. Tourret in litt. 2009), road-kills, deforestation, egg-collection (on a local scale) and possibly competition with the generally more successful Black Kite M. migrans (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001, Cardiel in litt. 2006, Mammen 2007, Cardiel and Viñuela 2007). Another factor implicated in the declines in France and Spain is a decrease in the number of rubbish dumps (Mionnet 2007, Cardiel and Viñuela 2007).

Distribution map:

: Birdlife International


LIFE-projects focusing on this species:

SAVE THE FLYERS (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000332): Measures for the conservation of Chiroptera and Avifauna in Central Italy.

LIFE EUROKITE (LIFE18 NAT/AT/000048): Cross-border protection of the Red Kite in Europe by reducing human-caused mortality



Aebischer, A. 2009. Der Rotmilan – ein faszinierender Greifvogel. Haupt Verlag, Bern.

Cardiel, I. E. 2006. El milano real en España. II Censo Nacional (2004).

Cardiel, I.; Viñuela, J. 2007. The Red Kite in Spain: distribution, recent population trends, and current threats.

Carter, N. 2007. Lark Rise Farm, Barton, Cambs (Plot 1571) the Countryside Restoration Trust report on breeding birds 2005. BTO Research Report 482: 1-17.

Duchamp, M. 2003. Birds and windfarms.

Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London.

Knott, J, P. Newbery, and B. Barov. 2009. Action plan for the red kite Milvus milvus in the European Union. BirdLife International for the European Union.

Mammen, U. 2007. Der Rotmilan als prioritäre Art des Vogelschutzes in Deutschland und Mitteleuropa.

Mammen, U., Mammen, K., Kratzsch, L. andr Resetaritz, A. 2009. Interactions of Red Kites and wind farms in Germany: results of radio telemetry and field observations. In: David, F. (ed.), Red Kite International symposium, pp. 100-105. Montbéliard, France.

Mionnet, A. 2007. Red Kite in France: distribution, population development , threats.

Smart, J.; Amar, A.; Sim, I. M. W.; Etheridge, B.; Cameron, D.; Christie, G.; Wilson, J. D. 2010. Illegal killing slows population recovery of a re-introduced raptor of high conservation concern - the Red Kite Milvus milvus. Biological Conservation 143(5): 1278-1286.