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Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Hilary Yu


Breeding in Guatemala begins in March; at one site, 18 March was the earliest observed laying date and the 11th of June the latest fledging date (Seavy et al. 1998). Nesting in March also is reported from Suriname (Haverschmidt 1968); in Trinidad breeding season extends from February to June (Belcher and Smooker 1934, ffrench 1993. At the southern end of the breeding range, in southern Brazil, Belton (1984) observed a pair of adults bringing prey to a nest in late November.

Kites build small, flimsy-looking stick nests in tall, exposed trees (Haverschmidt 1968, Belton 1984). The same nest or one near it is often used by the same pair in subsequent years, and both parents aid in nest construction where needed. The clutch size is one or two, with clutches of one egg being the norm everywhere except at the far northern and southern regions of their range (Seavy et al. 1998). Eggs are white or pale bluish-white, and except for nest stains, are otherwise unmarked. Three eggs had measurements of 40 x 33, 41.25 x 35.5, and 41 x 35 mm (Belcher and Smooker 1934).

The incubation period is ca 32-33 days and the nestling period is ca 38½ days. As a study site in Guatemala, eggs hatched in late April to early May during the late dry season. As the rainy season began in late May and early June, corresponding to maximal prey abundance, the young fledged (Seavy et al. 1998).

In the study conducted in Guatemala, 0.37 fledglings were produced per nesting attempt and there was notable synchronization in nesting phenology. Parents shared incubation duties, with each shift lasting an average of 1.99 hours. During the 32-33 day incubation period, one parent or another was on the nest about 97.8% of the time. Unlike the majority of other raptors, each adult in the pair foraged independently during the nesting cycle. After hatching and as the nestlings grew older, pair members appeared to more evenly share the duties of brooding and feeding. The hatchlings were downy white and had dark eyes and a black bill with a yellow cere (Seavy et al. 1998).

Recommended Citation

Yu, H. (2012). Plumbeous Kite (Ictinia plumbea), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.