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White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

The White-tailed Kite is a handsome, elegant raptor of open habitats. Adults are white below and pale gray above, with contrasting black lesser and median upperwing coverts, black eye patches, and striking red irides. They live in agricultural lands, savanna, and marshes, where they can often be spotted in their characteristic hovering flight as they search for prey. They feed largely on rodents, but also occasionally birds or reptiles. Pairs construct or appropriate stick nests high in trees. Non-breeding and roosting birds often congregate in flocks. This species breeds from the United States south to northern South America and from eastern Brazil south to central Argentina. Migratory patterns are poorly known, but some northern and southern populations migrate to lower latitudes during winter and dispersal related to prey abundance occurs.

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© Geoffrey A. Keller

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

Recommended Citation

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: