Two species were found in Pal. The Red Kite—once common in England—is partly resident, but numbers also come from N for the winter. The slightly smaller and darker Black Kite is mainly a migrant seen frequently when passing N after wintering in Africa. Kites are distinguished from other birds of prey by their long forked tails. In feeding habits they fall between vultures and hawks, taking a wide range of prey and also being content with carrion. Like all big Raptores they are masters of flight.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A medium-sized member of the hawk tribe (see Hawk). This bird is 27 inches long, of bright reddish-brown color, has sharply pointed wings and deeply forked tail. It is supposed to have exceptionally piercing eyes. It takes moles, mice, young game birds, snakes and frogs, as well as carrion for food. Its head and facial expression are unusually eagle-like. It was common over Palestine in winter, but bred in the hills of Galilee and rough mountainous places, so it was less conspicuous in summer. It is among the lists of abominations (see
"That path no bird of prey knoweth,
Neither hath the falcon’s eye seen it" (
The word used here in the original Hebrew is ’ayyah, which was the name for kite. Our first translators used "vulture"; our latest efforts give "falcon," a smaller bird of different markings, not having the kite’s reputation for eyesight.