Birds of the Redlands - Square-tailed kite

Photo: Dawn & Jim Langiewicz

Scientific name: lophoictinia isura


  • Queensland: Least concern (NC(W)R 2006)

What does it look like?

The square-tailed kite gets its name from a long square tail. It has long upswept paddle-shaped wings and a large lighter crescent at the wingtip base.

This is a medium-sized, long-winged raptor bird, often blackish in colour with brown upper parts and reddish-brown underparts. These natural predators can be spotted roosting high in trees or in flight searching for prey.

Where do they live?

The square-tailed kite is endemic to Australia, occurring across the mainland but rare in central parts of the continent.

Often found in a variety of timbered habitats, the kite prefers open eucalypt forests and woodlands with mature trees. It also forages around suburban trees and shrubs and nests in urban bushland. 

Square-tailed kites are highly territorial, with pairs requiring a breeding area of approximately 170km2 which they defend fiercely when disturbed. They build large stick nests in the upper branches of living trees located in open forests or near forest edges and openings. Egg clutches are usually 1-2 eggs, with only a single lay per season.

What is threatening them?

  • Habitat loss and degradation
  • Human threats
  • Urbanisation.


The square-tailed kite is protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. It is an offence to hurt or interfere with the square-tailed kite in any other way than when accepted by the Act.

Redland City Council manages environmental pests throughout the Redlands to minimise their impact on native ecosystems and birds such as the square-tailed kite.

Did you know...?

Square-tailed kites mainly prey on perching birds - particularly honeyeaters - and insects in the tree canopy. Other prey includes reptiles, bird eggs and occasionally poultry. Kites hunt by skimming and circling above treetops.

Similar species to the square-tailed kite include the Immature Black Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard and Red Goshawk.

How you can help

If you have seen or suspect the Square-tailed Kite at any location, please report it to IndigiScapes on (07) 3824 8611.