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White-tailed Kite

From Opus

Photo by mmdnjeChongon, Guayas Province, Ecuador, December 2005
Photo by mmdnje
Chongon, Guayas Province, Ecuador, December 2005
Elanus leucurus


[edit] Identification

35–43 cm (13¾-17 in)

  • Pale bluish-grey upperparts
  • Black shoulder
  • White underparts

[edit] Similar Species

The allopatric Black-winged Kite

[edit] Distribution

Photo by digishooterLake Isabella: Kern Co, California, USA, March 2014
Photo by digishooter
Lake Isabella: Kern Co, California, USA, March 2014

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.

[edit] Taxonomy

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).

[edit] Subspecies

JuvenilePhoto by Rodrigo ConteBrasilia, Brazil, August 2014
Photo by Rodrigo Conte
Brasilia, Brazil, August 2014

Two subspecies recognised[1]:

  • E. l. majusculus:
  • E. l. leucurus:

[edit] Habitat

Open woodland and grasslands with scattered trees, often near rivers and lakes.

[edit] Behaviour

Outside the breeding season they roost communally in groups of up to 100.

[edit] Diet

The diet consists mostly of rodents such as mice and voles, with the addition of other small mammals; they will also occasionally hunt birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

[edit] Breeding

They construct a platform from sticks and place it in the fork of a tree or bush. The clutch consists of 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 30 - 32 days. The young fledge at 5 - 6 weeks.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2016)
  3. BF Member observations
  4. Blake Scinta

[edit] External Links


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

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