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Swallow-tailed Kite

Elanoides forficatus ORDER: ACCIPITRIFORMES FAMILY: ACCIPITRIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A strikingly marked raptor of wetlands in the southeastern United States, the Swallow-tailed Kite captures flying insects or plucks insects and lizards from the tops of trees.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
19.7–25.2 in
50–64 cm
Wingspan
48 in
122 cm
Weight
13.1–21.2 oz
370–600 g
Other Names
  • Le Milan de la Caroline, Milan à queue fourchue (French)
  • Gavilan tijereta, Gavilan cola de tijera (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Swallow-tailed Kite rarely flap its wings while flying, but it almost continuously rotates its tail, often to nearly 90 degrees, in order to hold a heading, make a sharp turn, or trace tight circles while drifting across the sky.
  • The Swallow-tailed Kite frequently eats while flying.

Habitat


Forest

Forested regions, often bottomland, or riverine forest, also open pine woodland.

Food


Insects

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and covered in down.
Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Flycatching

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Population in United States appears stable.

Credits

  • Meyer, K. D. 1995. Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus). In The Birds of North America, No. 138 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Swallow-tailed Kite Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings