Brahminy kites are unmistakeable medium-sized birds of prey. Adults have a reddish-brown body plumage contrasting with their white head and breast which make them easy to distinguish from other birds of prey. They are found mainly on the coast and in inland wetlands, where they feed on dead fish and other prey.
Brahminy kites are found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia. They are mainly seen in the plains but also in coastal regions, estuaries, wetlands, mangrove swamps, and even in urban areas.
Brahminy kites don't migrate but perform seasonal movements associated with rainfall in some parts of their range. They are usually seen alone or in pairs and may roost communally on large and isolated trees. Brahminy kites hunt by day soaring high in the air looking for prey. They may also hunt from a perch, or on the ground. They may also indulge in kleptoparasitism and try to steal prey from other birds. Brahminy kites have even been recorded taking advantage of Irrawaddy dolphins herding fish to the surface. These birds are generally silent, however, when they need to communicate with each other, they utter a mewing 'keeyew' call or a lamb-like 'pee-ah-ah-ah'.
Little information is known about the mating system in Brahminy kites. However, like most species of kites, they might be monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. Their breeding season varies with location. In South Asia, it occurs from December to April. In southern and eastern Australia, it is August to October, and April to June in the north and west. Brahminy kites nest solitarily in the same area year after year. Their nests are located in various trees, often mangroves; they are constructed of small branches and sticks with a bowl inside and lined with leaves. In some rare instances, they may nest on the ground under trees. The female lays a clutch of 2 dull-white or bluish-white oval eggs. Both parents take part in nest building and feeding, but likely only the female incubates. The incubation period lasts about 26 to 27 days. The chicks fledge when they are 44-56 days old and remain with their parents for another 2 months. They become reproductively maturity and are ready to breed at 2 years of age.
Brahminy kites are not considered globally threatened at present. However, their populations are declining due to hunting and collection of nestlings, disturbances, over-use of pesticides, and habitat loss.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Brahminy kite population size is more than 100,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.