Snail Kite

Rostrhamus sociabilis

Order

FALCONIFORMES

Family

Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4

SNKI

Code 6

ROSSOC

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Snail Kite is a large species that prefers to breed in tropical climates. It is found in South America, the Caribbean and throughout the state of Florida. This species is typically a permanent resident in its range, however the southernmost specimens migrate north or disperse during winter months. Preferred habitats for this bird include freshwater wetlands. Nesting is conducted in large colonies, and nests are built in low bushes or on the ground. The diet of the Snail Kite consists largely of apple snails and possibly crawfish. Due to maintained or increasing numbers of the Snail Kite, this species’ conservation rating is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Snail Kite: A large bird, dark blue black overall with extremely hooked thin black bill with reddish base. In flight shows a white tail with broad dark distal band and narrow gray terminal band. Long legs are bright orange or red. Feeds on snails. Flies on slow shallow wing beats followed by glides.


Range and Habitat

Snail Kite: This bird ranges from the Gulf coast and Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico and the West Indies to northern Argentina. Within the United States, it resides only in peninsular Florida. It is locally common on flooded freshwater marshes, around shallow lakes, and along freshwater courses.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"ka-ka-ka-ka-ka", "ka-a-a-a--a-a-a", "ker-wuck", "ku-kuak", "kor-ee-ee-a, koree-a"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Abundant in Latin America, Snail Kites in the U.S. are only found in Florida and are highly endangered.
  • Also called the Everglades Kite, they are one of the most specialized of all hawks. They feed almost exclusively on the apple snail.
  • Fewer than 900 birds and 400 mated pairs were recorded in 2007. When they were listed as endangered in 1967, there were fewer than 100 individuals; their population peaked in 1999 at around 3,600.
  • 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 Snail 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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Terminal bandX
Refers to the contrasting stripe at the tip of the tail.
UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X