White-tailed Kite

Elanus leucurus

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4

WTKI

Code 6

ELALEU

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The White-tailed Kite is a black and white kite found in western North America and South America. This species was almost extinct in California in the 1930s and 1940s, but is now common. Distribution is very patchy, and the White-tailed Kite is found in the Central Valley, southern coastal areas, the San Francisco Bay, southern Texas, the Baja California peninsula, and eastern Mexico. Diets consist mainly of rodents and sometimes small birds. Food is found and caught by hovering over low scrub and grasslands. Nests are built high in trees. The conservation rating of the White-tailed Kite is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

White-tailed Kite: Small hawk with gray upperparts, black shoulders, and white face and underparts. Eyes are red, bill is black. Underwings are white and gray with dark patches at bend. Tail is square, pale gray, and shorter than folded wings. Legs and feet are gray. Soars on thermals and updrafts.


Range and Habitat

White-tailed Kite: Common in northwest Africa, southern Asia, the East Indies, Arabia, and Africa south of the Sahara. Also occurs along west coast of the U.S., Texas, Florida, and throughout much of Mexico. Preferred habitats include open savannah, cultivated highlands, grassy plains, and semi-desert grasslands.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"keep-keep-keep", "weep-weep", "plee-wit, plee-witt"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • White-tailed Kite roosts communally during non-breeding seasons.
  • Researchers have yet to determine whether the White-tailed Kite is migratory, nomadic, or both.
  • The child’s toy made of wood and paper was named for these birds.
  • A group of kites has many collective nouns, including a "brood", "kettle", "roost", "stooping", and "string" of kites.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for White-tailed Kite

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X