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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 13:36 EDT

Snail Kite

The Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It can be found in tropical South America, the Caribbean and southern Florida, USA.

This bird prefers fresh water wetlands. It builds its nest in a bush or on the ground where it lays 3-4 eggs. It is 45cm long with a 120cm wingspan. It is a sociable species and forms large colonies in winter.

The Snail Kite has long, broad, and rounded wings. It is long-tailed, with a white rump and undertail coverts. Its dark, deeply hooked beak is an adaptation to its diet, which consists almost exclusively of Apple Snails. The adult male has dark blue-grey plumage, with darker flight feathers. The legs and cere are red.

The adult female has dark brown upperparts and heavily streaked pale underparts. She has a whitish face with darker areas behind and above the eye. The legs and cere are yellow or orange. Juveniles are similar to adult females, with the exception of streaked crown.

The flight is slow, with the Kite’s head facing downwards as it looks for snails.

The Snail Kite is an endangered species in the Florida Everglades in the US, with a population of less than 400 breeding pairs. Research has demonstrated that water level control in the Everglades is depleting the population of Apple Snails.

Snail Kite