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Hook-billed Kite - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Hedon
Arenillas, Ecuador, 15 May 2018

Includes Cuban Kite and Grenada Kite

Chondrohierax uncinatus


39–51 cm (15¼-20 in)
Light and dark morphs and confusing intermediates. One constant is transluscent, barred primaries.


Cuban birds have sexual dimorphism, male with gray upperside and barred underside, female similar in brownish colors. Juveniles black above, white below, with white extending to hindneck. Larger bill by far than other forms.


Photo © by SueO
Fort Sherman, Panama, 22 October 2011

North, Central and South America.

In North America breeds only in extreme southern Texas along the Rio Grande between Falcon Dam and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Breeds throughout Mexico and south to Panama and in South America from Colombia and Venezuela to western Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina. Also breeds in the Caribbean in Oriente Province of eastern Cuba, on Grenada and Trinidad.




Photo © by mtbirder
El Tuito, Mexico, 31 March 2014

There are three subspecies[1]:

  • C. u. uncinatus:
  • C. u. uncinatus wilsonii: Cuban Kite:
  • C. u. uncinatus mirus: Grenada Kite:

Both of these last two subspecies are considered to be full species by some authors[3], [4] and both are critically endangered.

Two additional subspecies: aquilonis and megarhynchus are generally considered invalid[2].


Prefers the lower canopy in tropical rainforest and cloud forest, secondary-growth and riverine woodlands, swamps and savannas.


Perches high in trees and can be difficult to see. Not a shy bird.


Their main diet consists of snails; Cuban birds are also known to eat slugs.


Dark morph
Photo © by Rodrigo Conte
Brasilia, Brazil, 26 December 2015
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52955 on 26 July 2019).
  4. Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 Jul. 2019
  5. Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/hobkit
  6. Johnson, J.A., Thorstrom, R. & Mindell, D.P. (2007) Systematics and conservation of the Hook-billed Kite including the island taxa from Cuba and Grenada. Anim. Conserv. 10(3): 349-359.

Recommended Citation

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