Red Kites were widespread throughout the British Isles until the 18th century but were almost wiped out by gamekeepers who thought wrongly that they preyed on game birds.
In fact they are mainly scavengers and helped to clear the filthy rubbish in the streets of mediaeval and Elizabethan London. They also feed on small mammals, rabbits, fledgling rooks and gulls and occasionally worms and frogs.
Their flight is graceful and apparently effortless and they can soar for hours over feeding grounds which include refuse tips. The kites which children fly took their name from these beautiful birds.
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