Red kites in Denmark and Wales

Red kites in Denmark and in Wales

Red kites at Gigrin Feeding Station in Wales.

Foto: Carsten Clausen.

  • Summary
    The Red Kite Milvus milvus in Eastern Jutland: Settlement,
    change in numbers and habitat in Denmark.
    At least 90% of all Red Kites breed in Europe, and hence European
    countries have a strong obligation to protect the species.
    Although protected by the European Birds Directive, the Red Kite
  • is subject to several threats such as persecution by poisoning and hunting, wind turbines and habitat degradation.
  • In the 19th century, the Red Kite was an abundant breeding bird in Denmark. However, due to intensive persecution of raptors, the Red Kite disappeared as a breeding bird in 1906. Following national protection of the Red Kite in 1922, and of all raptors in 1967, the Red Kite resettled in Denmark in the early 1970s.
    The first breeding pairs of Red Kite were reported from Eastern
    Jutland around 1980. I compiled information from an area of approximately 4800 km2 from my own records and those of other ornithologists, biologists, farmers, hunters, landowners, municipalities and technical journals together with information from media, Facebook, web-pages, BirdLife Denmark’s database and the literature in order to describe the settlement of Red Kite in Eastern Jutland, the following rise in numbers, and aspects of breeding conditions, habitat choice and wintering. From the initial settlement, the number of breeding pairs
    increased to about 20 pairs in 2015-2017 followed by a remarkable
    increase to 110 to 112 pairs in 2019-2020. However, the most recent rise in numbers is mainly ascribed to a significant expansion of the census area and time spent in the field. During the period 2018-2020, the breeding density averaged 2.24 pairs per 100 km2. Reproductive success constituted 2.44 fledged young per successful pair during the period 2015-2017 and 2.05 between 2018 and 2020. Production of young was comparable to that found in other European studies.
    Overall, 91% of all Red Kites reported during mainly the summer half-year were observed in connection with fields recently subject to farming processes, in particular mowed grassland (44%). The breeding habitat was mainly old deciduous woodland (86%). About half (54%) of the breeding sites were reported from woodland between 11 and 100 hectares in size. Compared to the available sizes of all woodland in the area, Red Kites did not show any preferences. The earliest mating and nest building was observed on 2 and 4 April, respectively. When territorial disputes were recorded, it was mainly directed towards Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and never between Red Kites. Red Kites sometimes took over nests from Honey Buzzard Pernis Apivorus and Raven Corvus corax.
    Raptors are generally sensitive to human activity at the breeding site, and Red Kites abandoned the breeding site on a number of occasions. Although not confirmed, observers assessed that activities in woodland such as logging and general outdoor activity were the main reasons for Red Kites abandoning a breeding location. A large nocturnal winter roost of Red Kite with up to 133 individuals was reported from Djursland and constituted a large Siden Rød Glente genindvandrede i Østjylland omkring 1980, er bestanden steget til ca. 110 par. Foto: Carsten Clausen.
    160 Rød Glente i Østjylland proportion of the entire Red Kite wintering population in Denmark. The frequent observations of Red Kite in Eastern Jutland in connection with grassland are in line with other studies, which
    emphasize the importance of access to a mosaic landscape comprising arable land, meadows and wetlands.
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    Forfatterens adresse:
    Jørgen Terp Laursen (jtl(2), Engdalsvej 81b, 8220
    Brabrand, Denmark
  • See the full article:

  • Dansk Orn. Foren. Tidsskr. 117 (2023): 154-160


Breeding approx. 350 pairs of Red Kite in Denmark 2022-2023 and the population is increasing.

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