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Alternative name: Everglade Kite
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.
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.
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.
There are 3 subspecies:
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.