Red Kite/Rød glente
photo 2008 Skagen: stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan Foto
The red kite is a fantastic flyer. With its long, forked tail, its long wings with a span of 145-165 cm and the rust-red colour it is a beautiful and striking bird of prey.
The Danish name glente derives from Old Norse gleda, which belonged to Indo European glend(h) , meaning to glide. The English name kite because it hangs for hours like a"kite" above the forest, marking its territory.
Its habitat is mostly inside Europe. In the beginning of the 1900s the kite was almost exterminated in Denmark because of shooting and putting down poison, but after a total protection from 1922 the species re-immigrated in the 1970s from the growing Swedish and German population and has since spread slowly in Denmark.
2007 was a breakthrough year with 46 breeding couple in Denmark. The South Swedish population of kites has grown from 20 breeding couple in 1960 to over 1200 in 2007. But the kite is still threatened, among other things because of direct persecution on their overwintering places in Spain. The international pressure has diminished the problem.
In Denmark the kite is on the Red List which is an international commitment. The Danish Red List was updated in 2005.
The red kite plays an important role as Nature's garbage man. It also feeds on amphibians, reptiles, mice, rats, little birds, crows and seagulls.
Weather Omens, Superstitions etc.:
If the kite was white beneath the wings when arriving in spring you had to be prepared for still another snowy weather.
It the kites fly high playing with one another the weather will be beautiful; if the kite screams a lot then rainy weather is on its way - and if it flies down into the farm yard it will be stormy weather.
The maid in a vicarage stole a pair of scissors and the vicar - who was a "wise man" - changed her into a kite, therefore its tail is forked.
You must not look for at kite, it has a hole in its wings and it is dangerous to look through it.
When the little birds fight they make the kite a judge.
photo 2008 Skagen: grethe bachmann