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Snail Kite

From Opus

Revision as of 18:58, 28 August 2017 by Deliatodd-18346 (Talk | contribs)

Alternative name: Everglade Kite

MalePhoto by Pantanal1The Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Photo by Pantanal1
The Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Rostrhamus sociabilis



Length = 43 cm (17 in); Weight = 375 g

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

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.

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


North, Central and South America. In North America breeds only the Everglades of southern Florida. Further south breeds in Cuba and the Isle of Pines and from Veracuz and Oaxaca to Chiapas and Quintana Roo in Mexico to Nicaragua, but rare in Panama. In South America breeds south to western Ecuador in the west and throughout the east as far south as Uruguay and northern Argentina. Rare in Trinidad. Resident.



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

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.


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



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.


A short, guttural cackle.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from

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