skip to content

Chondrohierax uncinatus

Hook-billed Kite

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies


Chondrohierax uncinatus

São Luiz do Paraitinga, São Paulo, Brazil; 14 August 2010 © Demis Bucci

The Hook-billed Kite is a distinctive member of the Neotropical raptor community. It’s plumage is highly variable but in general is banded rufous or grey below with a grey head and brown or grey back, though dark morphs also occur. Most striking is the variation in bill size, which does not vary geographically, but is bimodally distributed in many parts of the range, with large-billed and small-billed individuals (large bills twice as big as small ones) in both sexes and all ages. This bill dimorphism is likely an evolutionary solution to their main food source, tree snails. A bimodal distribution of bill sizes allows the Hook-billed Kite to feed on different species and sizes classes of snails. The Hook-billed Kite is fairly common across most of its range, but the endemic subspecies of Cuba (wilsonii),  which some authorities regard as a separate species, is Critically Endangered.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute — we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

Recommended Citation

. 2010. Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps provided by BirdLife International ( and 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
  • Foraging Strata:
  • Foraging Behavior:
  • Diet:
  • Sociality:
  • Mating System:
  • Nest Form:
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern