This winter will mark our third red kite winter roost observations project. Find out more about the project and why we need you to get involved by sharing your photos.

Calling all red kite photographers in North Scotland! We need your wing-tagged red kite photos!

This winter we are co-ordinating our third ‘red kite winter roost observations project’ in North Scotland and we need your help. We need photos of wing-tagged red kites spotted in the Highlands.

Red Kite. Credit: Ben Hall

Red kites were once common throughout the UK but persecution drove them to near extinction in the late nineteenth century. Legal protection helped a slow recovery and in 1989 they were reintroduced to Scotland, first on the Black Isle then near Stirling in 1996, in Dumfries and Galloway in 2001 and finally on the outskirts of Aberdeen in 2007. Since being reintroduced to the Black Isle, young red kites have been fitted with wing-tags in order to help us monitor their movements.

Each tag is unique, identifying a specific individual. The colour of the tag on the birds left wing denotes the area in which they were marked/released (blue for the North Scotland population) and the colour of the bird’s right wing-tag denotes the year in which it fledged. In addition, each tag bears a tag code, which may be a letter, number or symbol. The colours of the tag and its code together allow a bird to be individually identified.

Red Kite at Argaty. Credit: Victoria Hume

Sadly, the growth of the Black Isle red kite population has been hindered in the past due to illegal killing, where there should now be over 1000 breeding pairs, there are less than 100.  

We are running this project, that has been funded by renewable energy supplier ENECO, to further our understanding of how well the kites have done in recent years and whether population growth is still being restricted.

We need to know which tagged birds have been sighted and where, in order to build our knowledge of important winter roost sites and the age structure of the North Scotland red kite population. The more wing-tag records we gather the more informative our data will be and that’s where photographers can really help us out.

We need pictures where the numbers or symbol on at least one of the wing-tags is entirely visible. We also need the precise location of where in the Highlands the photograph was taken and the date. Photographs can age from October 2016 onwards. The project is running until March 2019, so please make sure you send any photos to before the end of March next year. Thank you! Your help is greatly appreciated.


Red Kite at Argaty, Credit: Victoria Hume


Important information for those taking part:

Personal data:-

Any personal data you provide via e-mail is collected and used only by the RSPB for the purposes of the red kite winter roost observations project. Your data will not be shared with anyone else and will only be kept for as long as necessary.

If you no longer wish to be contacted about the project please contact us via e-mail at

If you would like to know more about your data protection rights, please take a look at RSPB’s Privacy Policy available at

Photo usage:-
Received images will be used for red kite identification purposes related to the red kite winter roost observations project. We will contact you if we wish to use images for purposes relating to the project such as in reports, social media or for promotional posters.

Disturbance avoidance:-

Red kites are a schedule 1 protected species, it is an offence to intentionally disturb them at any time of the year. To ensure no disturbance is caused photographs are best taken from a vehicle or a hide. Please do not approach within 300m of any nest sites or roosting birds.