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Ethereal kite - Neocene Project

By electreel
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My rendition of Sergey Ivanov's picture in color. 

Ethereal kite (Seraphimornis gracilissimus)
Order: Falcon birds (Falconiformes)
Family: Ethereal kites (Seraphimornitidae)
Habitat: tropical areas of Pacific Ocean, seashores and large rivers near forests tracts.

In Holocene flesh-eating falcon birds had great damage from human activity. The majority of species of these predators became rarity – especially large “noble” falcons and the most part of eagles. Ecological crisis at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene had resulted in mass extinction of animals that became the reason of disappearance of large feathered predators. Because of it up to Neocene this group was present by not numerous low-specialized forms – mainly by hawks. In Neocene corvid birds had substituted large feathered predators of Old World, and descendants of butcherbirds had replaced falcons. In such conditions falcon birds evolved to very specialized forms.
Above river fauces, in mangrove thickets and above the coastal sea waters one representative of Neocene falconiforms hunts. It is a medium-sized bird with long legs and peaked wings. Its wingspan makes about 2 meters, but long primarily feathers make a significant part of this size. These birds were widely settled in tropics of Indian Ocean and have reached even the far islands of Pacific Ocean. This bird is named seraph kite or ethereal kite, and is one of the best flyers on the Earth.
Ethereal kites are capable to stay in sea far from the coast till up to three or four days. Due to long wings bird uses air streams with the same dexterity as the albatross, and almost does not make efforts to flight. Forked tail with firm edge feathers provides the bird good maneuverability in air.
Ethereal kite has long and rather weak legs. It spends a little time on the ground – mainly during egg hatching and posterity care periods. This kite seldom walks on the ground, and prefers to have a rest, perching on large branches high above the ground. Ethereal kites gather for rest on trees with the broken top and thick branches especially frequently.
Weak legs do not permit this bird to hunt terrestrial animals, but ethereal kite eats absolutely another prey. Its food includes fish and aquatic invertebrates; bird snatches them out from water and brings to mouth, not interrupting its flight. During their sea flights ethereal kites receive water strictly from the eaten prey, but in estuaries, where the top layer of water is fresh, they can drink it like swifts, flying right above water surface.
The sexual dimorphism at these birds is expressed precisely enough: the female is approximately a quarter heavier than male is. Colouring at birds of both genders is identical: light grey with thin cross ripples on breast and white stomach. Edges of wings and tips of tail feathers are black. At males legs are colored light orange, at females they are yellow. In courtship period legs of male become bright orange, and at separate individuals they turn almost red.
These birds nest the year round – in tropics the regularity of nesting is not expressed. Pairs at ethereal kite form only for one nesting season and break up when young birds become independent. Male starts the display. It chooses a tree with flat top or forked branch to which it is possible to fly up easily. It drops into branches some large rods making a basis of nest, and begins courtship flight above the chosen place. The bird flies upwards almost vertically, and begins slow spiral descent, using ascending streams of air. Such flights may proceed for some hours in succession. If the female is interested in male, he shows a place for nest to her, and birds build it up in common. Birds make friable nest, throwing in suitable fork of branches rods and branches picked up on water surface. From time to time they fall to the nest and trample it down, giving the necessary form to the basis of nest.
In clutch of these birds it may be one or two rather large eggs (compared to large hen eggs in size). Egg shell is colored yellow with brown irregular-shaped sopts. Nestlings hatch after 18 days of incubation and develop rather fast. The bi-monthly bird already has completely advanced feathering. It leaves the nest and gradually learns flшпре skills. The young growth spends about one month with parents, and then leads independent life. In first two years of life plumage of bird is grey with bluish shade and without black marks. Life expectancy of these birds makes about 30 years.

The idea about existence of this species of birds was proposed by Bhut, the forum member.
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Comments5
anonymous's avatar
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kargaroc586's avatar
This is a beautiful bird :heart:

How large are they? It doesn't say...
electreel's avatar
Thanks! :bow: Well, it doesn´t say their lenght, but their wingspan: about 2 meters; so... I guess they´re over 50-60 cm long
Amplion's avatar
Oh my God! This is magnificent work! Thank you!!!!