Black Kites in Kyoto

Black kites (milvus migrans) flocking to scavenge food along Kamogawa behind Kyoto Prefectural Hospital, where people are eating lunch on April 12, 2013. These raptors, called TOMBI in Kansai (TOBI in Kanto), are commonly seen in the Japanese countryside, where, as solitary hunters, they prey on bugs, field mice, and other small animals.

In spite of warnings by Kyoto City officials, some people apparently feed them by throwing pieces of food into the air. I’ve watched these magnificent creatures hunt in Shiga many times. It’s disheartening to see them in flocks as scavengers, attracted by people who, failing to respect nature, feed them for entertainment.