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Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

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.

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© Paul Coopmans

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

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