Cabinet of Curiosities 10: the bird that gave its name to a toy What species of bird is this? What do you think it eats? Expand This is a ‘stuffed’ or mounted specimen of a red kite. It is a favourite exhibit of many visitors to Folkestone Museum. Red kites are birds of prey whose diet includes mice, voles, shrews and rabbits. They also eat dead animals, including roadkill. They grow up to 70cm high with a maximum wingspan of 1.79m. When flying, they are recognisable by their large size, red-brown colour and distinctive forked tail. In medieval times The red kite was a protected because they kept the streets free of rotting food. But by the 1870s they had been hunted to extinction in England. Red kites have been successfully re-introduced in recent years, and can be seen again in Kent, for example, on the white cliffs near Folkestone. Did you know? Red kites are mentioned in Shakespeare’s King Lear. The line When the kite builds, look to your lesser linen suggests they stole people’s washing to line their nests! The bird also gave its name to toy kites, flown on a piece of string, which are first mentioned in the 1600s.