The oldest red kite ever to survive in the wild has been found in south west Wales.

The injured bird which was found by a resident in Llanybydder back in July has now been identified as the oldest ringed red kite to survive in the wild, reaching the ripe old age of 26.

The bird had collapsed and was unable to fly. The homeowner contacted the RSPCA and wildlife officer Ellie West was tasked to assess the bird.

“This was such a beautiful bird - and I could tell that it was an adult and of a good age,” she said.

Western Telegraph: The red kite, which was too unwell to survive, is the oldest recorded bird of its species.

“There were no avian influenza symptoms but I was immediately concerned about its thin body condition and poor plumage.

“Unfortunately due to the extent of the kite’s condition it meant that the bird could not be helped and was put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

“The bird wasn’t able to fully extend its wings at carpal joints and was showing signs of bumblefoot - along with other concerns meaning sadly rehabilitation wasn’t an option.”

The bird had a ring on its leg and Ellie the light green Darvic ring - to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

At the end of September the BTO responded to reveal that the bird had been ringed as a nestling on June 20, 1997. It had survived 9,518 days, meaning the red kite is the oldest known in Britain and Ireland.

“I could not believe it as this bird was 26 years old - and was found in pretty much the same area they were ringed in all those years ago,” said Ellie.

Western Telegraph: The identification ring confirmed that the bird was 26 years old

“It is very sad that the bird didn’t make it but at least they didn’t suffer a lingering death. I’m sure it had a full life and it would be lovely to think that it may have reared several offspring over the years in the area too - although the sex is unknown.”

Confirming the significant age of the red kite, Lee Barber, demographic surveys organiser at BTO said: “This red kite now holds the longevity record for the oldest known wild red kite in Britain and Ireland.

“Amazingly this is the first and only report of this bird in 26 years and 22 days since it was ringed as a nestling back in 1997.

“It’s brilliant when people take the time to report ringed birds, as it helps us to gain a greater understanding of bird populations across the UK.

“Had this bird not been wearing a ring we would have no indication at all that it had become the oldest known of its species, as once red kites have moulted out of their immature plumage they look pretty much identical irrespective of age.

“Anyone can help monitor any bird they find wearing a ring by reporting it to My colleagues at BTO will then get back to them with a life history of the bird they found.”