Haliastur is a genus of medium-sized diurnal birds of prey. It consists of two species of kites which form part of the subfamily Milvinae; some authorities place these species in the genus Milvus,[1] despite clear differences in behaviour, voice and plumage.[2]

Whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Subfamily: Milvinae
Genus: Haliastur
Selby, 1840

H. indus
H. sphenurus

The genus was erected by the English naturalist Prideaux John Selby in 1840 with brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) as the type species.[3] The name of the genus combines the Ancient Greek hali- "sea-" and the Latin astur meaning "hawk".[4]

Species listEdit

Both of the species found in this genus are large for kites; both are relatively small-headed and have rounded tail tips.[5]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  H. indus Brahminy kite Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and southeast Asia and as far south as New South Wales, Australia
  H. sphenurus Whistling kite Australia (including coastal islands), New Caledonia and much of New Guinea


  1. ^ Slater, Peter; Pat Slater; Raoul Slater (1986). The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. Sydney: Reed New Holland. ISBN 1-877069-00-0.
  2. ^ Josep del Hoyo, ed. (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World, volume 2. Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-15-6.
  3. ^ Selby, Prideaux John (1840). A Catalogue of the Generic and Sub-Generic Types of the Class Aves, Birds, Arranged According to the Natural System. Newcastle: T. and J. Hodgson. p. 3.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Ferguson-Lees, James; David A. Christie (2001). Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1.

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