PHOTOS: “Kites” Spotted in Clayton Tree

January 20, 2013 19:00 pm · 48 comments




These beautiful birds, known as “Kites”, were spotted this weekend in Clayton.

Thanks to Deena for the pictures!

Has anybody seen Kites around Claycord before?

Good heart January 20, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Awesome pictures sis! :0)

MeryH January 20, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Great pictures of beautiful birds!

Anon January 20, 2013 at 7:13 PM

I had a pair that nested in my tree a few years back. My neighbors and I had no idea what type of bird they were, so we dubbed the “clayton hovering bird”. I think a pair of red tailed hawks took over that territory, as they haven’t nested in my tree again..
On a funny note, one day a friend and I were riding horses on Mt. Diablo when I spotted a hovering Kite. I told my friend, “look at the Kite”. Friend proceeds to tell me, “that’s not a kite, it’s a bird!”.

Beautiful! January 20, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Those are beautiful “Kites”. Reminds me of camping a couple years ago and watching a Bald Eagle land in a pine tree. It was amazing to watch him for quite a long time.

ptpauly January 20, 2013 at 7:19 PM

A few years ago I saw a pair of Kites in my neighbors tree across the street. Saw them around off and on. Now due to the unique way they hover I have seen a pair along Willow Pass Road thru NWS and along Highway 4 hunting for meals
Great photos of the birds

concordctl January 20, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Based on some descriptions of their listed hunting behavior, I can say that I frequently see them hovering or riding the wind over grassy areas and slopes along 4 near walnut creek and grayson creek. I usually see them on my way home from work in the late afternoon.

kiarfy January 20, 2013 at 7:29 PM

ohhhhhh…pretty birds………….lol

Keea13 January 20, 2013 at 7:30 PM

I have seen one on a regular basis by Arbolado Park in WC. Beautiful and makes a call like my dog’s squeaky toy. Often I hear it before I see it… so heads up when you hear a squeak!

Leslie Thompson January 20, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Yes, we have several! We have several sets every spring that build nests.
We love them! The babies are brown at first. One foggy morning my husband came back in the house to get me because he counted 46 of them in the field behind us. We have sat for hours in our side yard watching the babies learn how to fly and hunt. Best bird watching ever!

Dr. Jellyfinger January 20, 2013 at 7:35 PM

I see them almost everyday.

luvclayton January 20, 2013 at 7:51 PM

There are lots of kites in Clayton near Mt. Diablo (Dana Hills, Dana Ridge, etc.) And their abundance makes them no less stunning. I saw more than a dozen today looking for prey in the fields. They are known for their large, owl-like eyes, vertical flight/hovering, and incredibly loud and unique vocalizations. They nest in the trees around my area — watching the mama kites teach their babies to fly is truly amazing! WE LOVE THEM!

Melanie January 20, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Yes, I see them on my hikes in the hills almost every day, but not this close!!! Great pictures Deena!

Atticus Thraxx January 20, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Last two springs a pair and sometimes three, White Kites nested in Dana Estates near the pool. The make a horrible call. And make it often.

Shasta Daisy January 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

I see them all the time when I am out hiking.

Great close-up photos.
Thanks for sharing.

What kind of camera did you use to take these photos?

itsme January 20, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Are they related to owls? Beautiful birds!

Chevrolet girl January 20, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Had one fall out of the neighbors tree, took it to Lindsey but he didn’t make it. 🙁

I've seen them every day for the last year+ January 20, 2013 at 8:40 PM

I’m in Dana Hills, against Mt. Diablo State Park. There are kites that live in the oak trees above Mitchell Canyon. Every single morning and evening, when I go for a walk, they are either sitting in the very tops of the trees, watching the field for ‘food’ or else ‘kiting’ over the field (hovering) as they hunt for their meal. They are fascinating to watch.

Another name for them is ‘angel hawks’ because they resemble angels hovering over the fields. It’s fun to watch them hover, then dive suddenly and quickly after a mouse or other such prey.

Pucky January 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM

I have wondered what they were? Now I know; Thanks Claycord!

Beautiful close-up shots! January 20, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Very nice photos! Thanks for sharing.

Luna925 January 20, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Gorgeous! Thank you for confirming that these are the hovering birds I see. I love them! Love to watch them. I love it out here in Clayton , so many beautiful hawks and kites. I’m always amazed at the beauty around Lime Ridge, on Mt. Diablo and all around and I encourage you all to get out there and explore!

Concord Citizen January 20, 2013 at 8:51 PM

I saw one sitting at the top of my neighbor’s big tree a few months ago. I got out my binoculars and my bird field guide book to ID it. I’d never heard of a kite before. It’s a beautiful bird. Such amazing eyes.

John January 20, 2013 at 8:58 PM

See them frequently in the Regency Woods area

love :-) January 20, 2013 at 9:04 PM

cute birds

JLG January 20, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Nice birds but I just had my cat of eight years taken by a golden eagle not happy about birds right now. i chased the monster off our deck as now I know it was after our cat. But it came back. As the cat vanished.

Anon January 20, 2013 at 9:13 PM

What beautiful pictures!! Your camera takes amazing pictures. What kind is it?

kiarfy January 20, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Kite are indigenous to north america and especially in the northern california area. If you hike through mt diablo–you should see them regularly. Isn’t it amazing how we think that nature is intruding on us-when we are the ones that have intruded on nature. lol…claycord is technically “on” mt. diablo. Makes good research.

a mothers heart January 20, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Yes, I have 2 giant redwood trees and 2 or 3 pairs nest there regularly. Love these pictures, I haven’t been able to get any as they always stay at the very tips of the trees. They are very vocal. I read somwhere that at one point they were a “threatened ” species. I love having them around.

bluebird January 20, 2013 at 9:54 PM

I remember seeing at least two pair of kites nesting in redwoods near Landana/Cottonwood/Sattler about three years ago. It was amazing to watch them fly from the top of one tree to another tree. You definitely will remember their shrill call after you hear it the first time.

Paul (formerly) in South Concord January 20, 2013 at 10:14 PM

There was a rather large bird of prey, around 242 & Concord Ave, around 10:30 this morning. Too far to get a good enough look for an ID, but it was HUGE!

sunny day January 21, 2013 at 1:19 AM

They return every year to a tall Cedar on Panadero Way near Mitchell Canyon to nest. The last two years, they have had to battle it out with the increasing number of Crows that have moved into the area, but always seem to win out and get their spot back. They are successful breeding in this area and I’ve seen a large number of them flying over Dana Farms.

DoReMi January 21, 2013 at 6:19 AM

I see red tailed hawks all over the place, so I thought I was aware of the local birds. I have heard of a kite but have never seen one. Beautiful! Do they always have this fluffy white plumage? I can’t believe I have never spotted one! 🙂

Smokey January 21, 2013 at 7:25 AM

Kites and crows are two birds I rarely used to see, but now I see them all the time.

Shasta Daisy January 21, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Talking about birds….the red winged black birds are around again. Saw lots of them up by the college.
Spring is just around the corner.

CaliAli January 21, 2013 at 8:47 AM

We have had Kites nest in our trees for several years now. They are beautiful birds yet noisy, noisy, noisy. It’s a rare day when there is quiet here in our neck of the woods!

Palermo January 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Never seen one before, aren’t they beautiful

Judge Roy Bean January 21, 2013 at 9:25 AM

It is The Black Shouldered Kite….Over the past 20 years you see more in NorCal. You normally see the bird in the southern half of the lower 48 in warmer dry areas. These appear to be a pair of youngsters, that’s why the fluff.

DoReMi January 21, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Thanks Judge Roy Bean. I thought they looked young because of the downy appearance of the feathers. So these are probably siblings.

concordctl January 21, 2013 at 9:54 AM

JRB, your information is a little outdated:

“For some recent decades, it united with the Black-winged Kite of Europe and Africa in Elanus caeruleus, and collectively called “Black-shouldered Kite”.[Parkes (1958)] More recently it was argued that the White-tailed Kite differed from the Old World species in size, shape, plumage, and behavior, and that these differences were sufficient to warrant specific status.[Clark & Banks (1992)] This argument was accepted by the American Ornithologists’ Union, so the White-tailed Kite has its original name back. Meanwhile, the Old World E. caeruleus is again called Black-winged Kite, while the name Black-shouldered Kite is now reserved for an Australian species, Elanus axillaris, which had also been lumped into E. caeruleus but now regarded as separate again.”

Susan January 21, 2013 at 9:55 AM

I see them quite often while driving over YV Rd, near the open space.

nunya January 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM

We have a whole flock of them that live in the trees behind our house. Since they have moved in those NASTY crows have moved on. We LOVE kites!

Sunstar January 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM

They live in the Mt. Diablo hills. Anyone can see them along ygnacio valley rd.

Nate January 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM

We had 2 of them hanging around Davis/Grove near the canal. I snapped a few good pics in June… (my fav)

Arthur January 21, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Beautiful photos!

I agree that their call leaves a lot to be desired. They either have a whispy whistle or they sound like they’re coughing up a hairball. But looks-wise, they are gorgeous and elegant. Please don’t use poisonous bait to kill rodents, because kites are among the predators that might be poisoned too.

I love the line: “that’s not a kite, it’s a bird!”

Mugsy world January 21, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Thank you claycord for always educating us . Wonderful pics as well, gorgeous birds

DoReMi January 21, 2013 at 11:43 AM

lol at #38. Thanks for the clarity…or should I say levity.

led January 21, 2013 at 12:05 PM

White-tailed kites! Yes, we are lucky to have a lot of these very cool birds in our area. If you spend any time near open space in the Claycord area you will notice rather large light-colored birds with slender wings “hovering” as they scan for prey. Kestrels do this as well, but I believe these kites are the largest birds in our area that exhibit this aerobatic feat. A really cool species, and one that can be seen just about every day in the Claycord area.

Patricia January 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Those two Kites spend considerable time in the top of the neighbor’s tree. I’m so glad to finally get a good look at them. My binoculars aren’t very strong! They make a different sound. They fly around the neighborhood, always coming back to the top of the neighbor’s tree which is tall.

Turkey Vulture January 21, 2013 at 9:27 PM

No photos of crows or ravens, but the white kites get a whole photo spread!

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