Snail Kites

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Male Snail Kite

The Snail Kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis, is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes the eagles, hawks and Old World vultures.


Distribution / Range

The Snail Kite is a resident breeder in tropical South America, the Caribbean and central and southern Florida, USA. (Please refer to distribution map below.)

This is a bird of fresh water wetlands.


Status

The Snail Kite is an endangered species in the Florida Everglades in the U.S., with a population of less than 400 breeding pairs. Research has demonstrated that water level control in the Everglades is depleting the population of Apple Snails.


Nesting / Breeding

They nest in a bush or on the ground. The average clutch consists of 3-4 eggs.


Snail Kite Distribution MapDescription

It is 45cm long with a 120cm wingspan. It is a gregarious species, forming large winter roosts.

The Snail Kite has long, broad, and rounded wings. It is long-tailed, with a white rump and undertail coverts. Its dark, deeply hooked beak is an adaptation to its diet, which consists almost exclusively of Apple Snails.

The adult male has dark blue-grey plumage, with darker flight feathers. The legs and cere are red.

The adult female has dark brown upperparts and heavily streaked pale underparts. She has a whitish face with darker areas behind and above the eye. The legs and cere are yellow or orange.

The immature is similar to adult female, but the crown is streaked.

The flight is slow, with the Kite's head facing downwards as it looks for snails.

Snail Kite FemaleSnail KiteSnail KiteYoung Male Snail KiteSnail Kite in flight

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