How Big Are Red Kites? (Wingspan + Size)

How Big Are Red Kites? (Wingspan + Size)

Back from the brink of extinction, Red Kites (Milvus milvus) are now a familiar sight hovering beside motorways and over open fields. Their vast wingspan, forked tail and rich red plumage makes a positive identification of the species relatively easy.

But how do red kites measure up against other birds of prey? If you’d like to know the answer, then you’re in the right place!

Red kites are medium-large birds of prey, with vast wingspans reaching up to 195 cm (6 ft 5 in). These wide-angled, extra-long wings and distinctive forked tail allow them to soar at great speed, scanning the ground below for prey. Females are up to 5 percent bigger than males.

From the tip of their tail to the end of their bill, red kites’ body length measures in the range of 60 cm to 72 cm (24 to 28 in), with males at the lower end of the range and females towards the upper end.

For more information on a red kite’s measurements, how strong they are and how they compare to other birds and humans and in terms of size, please keep reading.

Red Kites are medium to large sized birds of prey

Red Kites are medium to large sized birds of prey

Red Kite wingspan

No individual breakdown of measurements has been recorded for any difference in wingspans of male and female red kites. However, as females of the species can be up to 5 percent larger than males, they will be at the upper end of the range, with wingspans reaching nearly 2 m (6 ft 7 in).

Red kite wingspan range: 175 cm to 195 cm (5 ft 9 in to 6 ft 5 in)

Red Kite wingspans can reach an impressive 6 ft 7 (nearly 2 m) in some cases

Red Kite wingspans can reach an impressive 6 ft 7 (nearly 2 m) in some cases

Red Kite weight

Female red kites are slightly heavier than their male counterparts, which is relatively standard for female and male birds of prey. Some overlap does occur between the heaviest males and the lightest females.

  • Male weight range: 757g to 1221 g (26.7 oz to 43.1 oz)
  • Female weight range: 960 g to 1600 g (34.0 oz to 56.4 oz)

How big are Red Kites compared to a human?

A red kite’s maximum wingspan of 195 cm (6 ft 5 in) eclipses the height of an adult male (175.3 cm / 5 ft 9 in) and is significantly larger than the average height of an adult female (161.3 cm / 5 ft 3 in).

In terms of body length, red kites are 60 to 70 cm (24 to 28 in) long and, in stature, would stand roughly around knee-high next to an average adult human.

Close up of a Red Kite coming in to land

Close up of a Red Kite coming in to land

How big of an animal can a Red Kite pick up?

Reports exist of red kites attempting to fly off with small dogs and even swooping down on toddlers. They are opportunistic birds, and on these occasions may have overestimated their own strength, as the maximum size prey they are usually able to carry off are small rabbits, due to their talons not being as strong as those of many other birds of prey.

Rather than being prolific hunters, red kites tend to find most of their food by scavenging for carrion, and will tear off meat to eat with their razor-sharp bills and curved talons.

Carrying live, heavy prey is not one of a red kite’s strengths: typical live prey caught by red kites includes earthworms, mice, voles and rats.

Why are Red Kites so big?

Red kites’ mighty wingspans allow them to soar effortlessly, covering large areas and maximising their feeding opportunities as they scan the terrain below.

Their huge wings, combine with their aerodynamic forked tail making them highly agile in flight, being able to change direction in a split second with ease.

The large wingspan of a Red Kite allows them to soar effortlessly through the skies, in search of prey

The large wingspan of a Red Kite allows them to soar effortlessly through the skies, in search of prey

Red Kites compared to other bird species

Among the UK’s more common birds of prey, not many come close to the size of a red kite. Red kites are bigger than sparrowhawks, kestrels, black kites, hobbies, hen harriers, peregrine falcons and goshawks in length, wingspan and mass.

The UK’s largest birds of prey are the white-tailed eagle and the golden eagle. Both of these have significantly wider maximum wingspans than that of the red kite. The largest white-tailed eagles’ wingspans measure 2.45 m (8 ft 0 in), with the golden eagle’s several inches shorter at 230 cm (7 ft 7 in). These are both over a foot wider than that of the largest red kite (195 cm / 6 ft 7 in).

Red kites and Eurasian eagle owls are similar in body length and wingspan measurements, but the eagle owl is almost double the weight of the red kite, weighing in at a maximum 4 kg (9 lb).

Red Kite in flight over the countryside

Red Kite in flight over the countryside


How big is a Red Kite compared to a crow?

Red kites are much bigger than even the largest carrion crows, with the red kite’s maximum wingspan (195 cm / 6 ft 5 in) almost double the size of that of the smaller black corvid (100 cm / 3 ft 3 in).

Is a Red Kite bigger than a buzzard?

On the ground, common buzzards and red kites might appear fairly similar in size, with buzzards stockier in appearance. Surprisingly though, although there is some overlap in the species’ weight range, the heaviest female red kites (1.6 kg / 56.4 oz) outweigh the heaviest female buzzards (weighing up to 1.4 kg / 49.4 oz).

Red kites definitely have a significant advantage over buzzards in the breadth of their wingspan. Even the largest buzzard’s wingspan measurement (140 cm / 4 ft 7 in) is over a foot shorter than that of the smallest red kites.

Is a Red Kite bigger than an eagle?

Red kites are smaller in length than golden eagles, and also weigh considerably less. There is some overlap between the species wingspans, with golden eagles’ wingtip-to-wingtip measurement in the range of 180 cm to 230 cm (5 ft 11 in to 7 ft 7 in).

White-tailed eagles, the UK’s largest bird of prey, dwarfs the red kite, weighing up to 6.9 kg (15.2 lb) – 5.3 kg (11.6 lb) more than the red kite.

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