White-tailed Kite

Elanus leucurus




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White with brown blotches

Number of Eggs:

3 - 6

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

15 - 60 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses, dry stubble, weed stems, and rootlets.





White-tailed Kite: Small hawk with gray upperparts, black shoulders, and white face and underparts. Underwings are white and gray with dark patches at bend. Tail is square, pale gray, and shorter than folded wings. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has gray-brown upperparts, dark wings, and faintly streaked, pale brown underparts.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

White-tailed Kite: Three to six white eggs with brown blotches are laid in a loose nest made of thin twigs. Male brings most of the material, which is then worked into the nest by the female. Female incubates eggs for about 30 days, with male sometimes assisting; male feeds her on or near the nest during incubation.

Foraging and Feeding

White-tailed Kite: Diet consists of voles, field mice, pocket gophers, ground squirrels, shrews, small birds, small snakes, lizards, frogs, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles; hunts while hovering, often pausing to study the ground before swooping down on prey.


White-tailed Kite: Thin, melodious "weep weep" is given at nest. A double whistle "plee-wit, plee-wit" is associated with alarm and food. When attacking other birds, it makes a series of shrill, chattering whistles.

Similar Species

White-tailed Kite: Gulls and terns lack black shoulder and wrist marks and have longer bills. Mississippi Kite is much darker and lacks shoulder and wrist marks.


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

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
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