Red kites on Priors Hall Park

Date Added 30 April 2021

Urban&Civic's onsite Ecologist, Nina Freer, shares her knowledge on our beautiful resident red kites

Red kites are a familiar sight over Priors Hall Park with many residents and contractors, including myself, taking great pleasure from watching them every day.

Seeing the kites close-up is spectacular and many people love seeing them at close quarters but there are issues with bringing this beautiful big bird closer to our homes. By supplementing their feeding, especially in the close quarters of our gardens, they can become a nuisance and a worry to our neighbours.

Whilst some like to see them swooping low over the garden, other people may not share this view and may actually be quite afraid of them, especially children. Another issue is that young red kites are not good at holding onto their food after they've picked it up. Having raw or cooked meat dropped all over the place isn't hygienic and will encourage rodents and other issues. Red kites have also been known to become unafraid of people and quite bold, stealing food from barbecues, patio tables and picnics.

Additionally, there are conservation concerns to feeding the kites. The re-introduction of red kites to the area has been an incredible success, but it is very important that the increasing population is sustained by the natural food in the wild; mainly carrion with some live prey including rats, mice and voles (while they might occasionally take other birds, there is no evidence that kites are responsible for any declines in garden or farmland birds).

There's plenty of natural food in the area to sustain a healthy population of red kites, so supplementary feeding here isn't necessary and may even discourage them from spreading out and finding their food naturally. This could ultimately lead to an unsustainably high population of red kites, who become reliant on human hand-outs which isn't good for the natural ecology of the area.

With red kites still being a relatively new reintroduction (70 birds in Rockingham between 1995-1998) they are still spreading out and there is still a natural balance to be found in every area they settle in and nature needs to find this balance itself, without human interference as much as possible.