Swallow-tailed Kite

Elanoides forficatus

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4

STKI

Code 6

ELAFOR

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Swallow-tailed Kite has a large range, estimated at 12,000,000 square kilometers. Native to the Americas and nearby island nations, this bird prefers subtropical or tropical forest ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 100,000 to 1,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Swallow-tailed Kite is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Swallow-tailed Kite: The largest of North America kites, has black upperparts which contrast with white head and underparts. In flight it shows long pointed wings with black flight feathers and white wing linings. Has a 15-16 inch-long black tail with deep fork. The neck, breast and belly are white.


Range and Habitat

Swallow-tailed Kite: Breeds mainly on or near coasts from Texas east to Florida, where it may occur statewide, and extends north to South Carolina; occur locally inland in Gulf Coast states. Winters in American tropics, where it also may breed. Inhabits swamps, marshes, river bottoms, and glades in open forests.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"ee-ee-ee", "pee-pee-pee", "klee-klee-klee", "peat, peat, peat"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Swallow-tailed Kite is perhaps the most adept and acrobatic flier of all the raptors.
  • In some nests two eggs are laid, but the first chick that hatches kills the younger chick. Ornithologists refer to this as obligate siblicide.
  • The scientific name comes from a Latin-Greek hybridization of the words elanus, meaning a kite; eidos, meaning to resemble or be similar to; and forfex, for scissors, which refers to the forked tail.
  • 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 Swallow-tailed Kite

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

4vdesign

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.
BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X