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Snail Kite

From Opus

MalePhoto © by Pantanal1The Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Photo © by Pantanal1
The Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil

Alternative name: Everglade Kite

Rostrhamus sociabilis


[edit] Identification

FemalePhoto © by bobsofpaHarn's Marsh, Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA, April 2015
Photo © by bobsofpa
Harn's Marsh, Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA, April 2015

39–48 cm (10¼-19 in); Weight = 375 g

  • Slaty-black body
  • White tail base
  • Narrow buff or white terminal band on tail
  • Long, thin hook on bill
  • Ceres and feet are orange or red
  • Red eyes

Female: Browner with buff-streaked underparts
Immature: Similar to female, but legs brownish and eye brown, with more streaking on breast.

[edit] Similar Species

Easily identified by bill in most of its range. The Slender-billed Kite (local near water in forested areas of South America) has a similar bill and resemble the male Snail Kite in plumage, but is shorter-winged and -tailed, has no white rump, crissum or tail-base and yellow eyes. Immature Slender-billed Kite has darker brownish eyes, but three narrow white tail-bands (incl. tip) unlike any plumage of Snail Kite.

[edit] Distribution

Juvenile, subspecies sociabilisPhoto © by OrozimboLins SP, Brazil, August 2017
Juvenile, subspecies sociabilis
Photo © by Orozimbo
Lins SP, Brazil, August 2017

Resident in North, Central and South America.
In North America breeds only in the Everglades of southern Florida.
In the Caribbean breeds in Cuba and the Isle of Pines.
Central America: In Mexico found in Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit on the Pacific side, and from Veracuz and Oaxaca to Chiapas and Quintana Roo (on both slopes from about the Isthmus. From there it is found in all countries through Panama, but rare in several areas.
In South America breeds west of the Andes south to western Ecuador and throughout the east as far south as Uruguay and north-central Argentina.

Rare in Trinidad.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

ImmaturePhoto © by dacolSweetwater Wetlands Park, Gainesville, Florida, USA, February 2018
Photo © by dacol
Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Gainesville, Florida, USA, February 2018

There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • R. s. plumbeus:
  • R. s. major1:
  • R. s. sociabilis:

An additonal subspecies, levis, is not generally recognised and is commonly included in plumbeus.

[edit] Habitat

Freshwater marshes and swamps, lagoons, rivers and mangroves. Lowlands.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Juvenile, subspecies sociabilisPhoto © by Dave B SmithPantanal, Brazil, September 2018
Juvenile, subspecies sociabilis
Photo © by Dave B Smith
Pantanal, Brazil, September 2018

As suggested by its name, feeds almost entirely on snails (e.g. Pomacea snails.). Flies low and slowly over marshes in search of its food.

[edit] Vocalisation

A short, guttural cackle.

[edit] References

  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

[edit] External Links


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