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Mainly white underneath, black wingtips and shoulders.
Very patchy distribution in North, Central, and South America. In North America breeds in southern California and Texas but increasing and expanding range with breeding north to Oregon and along the Gulf Coast to Florida. In Mexico breeds in southern Baja California and on the east coast from Tamaulipas to the Yucatan Peninsula. A recent colonist elsewhere in Central America with first breeding in Panama taking place in the 1970s. Patchy range in South America with breeding in from northern Venezuela and Trinidad to the Guianas, and in southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina and central Chile.
The new world form of the Elanus complex which is comprised of White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus), Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus), and Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris). These three species were until recently considered one species which was then called Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus).
Two subspecies recognised: nominate race in South America and majusculus in the USA and Mexico.
Open woodland and grasslands with scattered trees, often near rivers and lakes.
The diet includes principally rodents such as mice and voles, but will also occasionally hunt birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Outside the breeding season they roost communally in groups of up to 100.
They build a platform of sticks in the fork of a tree or bush. 3 - 5 eggs are laid and are incubated for 30 - 32 days. The young kites fledge at 5 - 6 weeks.
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