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Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis

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

The Snail Kite is perhaps one of the most morphologically specialized of any raptor in the world. Using their highly modified slender, strongly curved bill, they feed almost exclusively on apple snails (Pomacea). Snail Kites occur throughout the tropics and subtropics of the New World. Their main habitat requirements are open marshes that have been continuously flooded for at least two years, which allows the apple snails to accumulate to a sufficient density. In areas where the snails are abundant the Snail Kite will occur in very high densities and will often congregate in communal roosts numbering up to 1000 individuals. The Snail Kite is fairly distinctive, being all black with a prominent white rump and tail with a large black band towards the tip. It is most likely to be confused with the Slender-billed Kite, which is similar in size and shape, but lacks white in the plumage and forages in more forested habitats.

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© Gerrit Vyn

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

Recommended Citation

Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: