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Leptodon cayanensis

Gray-headed Kite

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies


Leptodon cayanensis

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica; 25 February 2009 © Matt Brady

The Gray-headed Kite is widely distributed in lowland forested habitats from Central America south to southern Brazil and Uruguay. The Grey-headed kite has a very broad diet including many insects, honeycombs, wasp, bees and their larvae, birds, snakes, arboreal geckos, frogs and even mollusks. It has also been seen in association with arboreal mammals and patiently waiting for traveling bands of marmosets to flush large arthropods such as katydids or cicadas. The Gray-headed Kite uses a flight display in courtship which involves rapid, fluttering, downward wingbeats. The genus, which is completed by its sister species the White-collared Hawk (Leptodon forbesi), has no close relatives in the Neotropics, but instead is related to the honey-buzzards (Pernis) and bazas (Avecida) of the Old World.

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Recommended Citation

. 2010. Gray-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
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  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern