Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus Scientific name definitions

Stephen Debus, Tim S. David, Jeffrey S. Marks, and Guy M. Kirwan
Version: 1.2 — Published October 1, 2021

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Juvenile Brahminy Kites look streaked from white feather shafts.


Lesser underwing coverts are dark brown. Median and greater underwing coverts have light and dark brown pattern. Secondaries are dark brown. Inner primaries (p1-p4) are barred pale brown. Outer primaries (p5- p10) are barred pale brown with black tips.

Formative Brahminy Kite

All flight feathers are retained juvenile feathers.

Definitive basic plumage.

Fine black streaks on white head, mantle, and breast are black shafts.

Definitive basic plumage.

Secondaries and inner primaries are light brown. P5 - p10 have black tips.

Definitive basic plumage.

Dorsal view photograph to show chestnut back and wings.

Second prebasic molt.

Cere is still gray.

Second prebasic molt.

P1-p3 are new.

Second prebasic molt.
Definitive prebasic molt.

Ventral view shows growing p6.

Definitive prebasic molt.

Ventral view shows growing p1, p7, s3 and s4.

Definitive prebasic molt.

Dorsal view of the same individual as in the previous photograph, with growing p1, p7, s3 and s4.

Frontal view (subspecies indus).

Large subspecies; white head, mantle, and breast show fine black streaks. Narrow paler tail tips.

Dorsal view of juvenile (subspecies indus).

Juvenile rather uniformly brown with tawny streaks on head and breast, less obvious "mask" behind eyes across ear coverts.

Composite in flight (subspecies intermedius).

Similar to nominate, but finer streaks restricted to shafts.

Lateral view (subspecies intermedius).
Lateral view (subspecies girrenera).

Smallest subspecies. Head and breast of adults plain white, and bill dull yellow with gray base.

Dorsal view in flight (subspecies girrenera).

Broad white tail tip.

Frontal view (subspecies girrenera).
Ventral view (subspecies flavirostris).

The largest subspecies. Similar in plumage to girrenera, but some adults show shaft-streaks on the back of their head. The belly may also be paler rufous. The bill is heavier, more "aquiline," and all yellow.

Lateral view (subspecies flavirostris).
Lateral view of immature (subspecies flavirostris).

Macaulay Library Photos for Brahminy Kite

Top-rated photos submitted to the Macaulay Library via eBird. Note: Our content editors have not confirmed the species identification for these photos.

Recommended Citation

Debus, S., T. S. David, J. S. Marks, and G. M. Kirwan (2021). Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), version 1.2. In Birds of the World (P. Pyle, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.brakit1.01.2