Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
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Photos from this Account


Slender and buoyant raptor with narrow, pointed wings and a deeply forked tail. Adults have a white head, body, and inner wing linings.


When perched, note long and slender look and long forked tail. The gleaming white head contrasts with its black back.


Most often seen in flight soaring on thermals with little flapping. Captures and eats prey in flight.


A crisp black-and-white raptor with a deeply forked tail that soars gracefully over swamps, marshes, large rivers, and savannas with tall trees.


Juveniles look very similar to adults but have a slight buffy wash on their head and breast.


Roosts with other Swallow-tailed Kites in tall trees often near swamps or wetlands.

Recommended Citation

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/swtkit