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Hook-billed Kite

Silhouette KitesKites
Hook-billed KiteChondrohierax uncinatus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae

Basic Description

A raptor that looks like it borrowed a parrot's bill, the Hook-billed Kite haunts wooded streams and rainforests across much of Latin America, with a few individuals reaching South Texas along the Rio Grande. They hunt for snails inside tree canopies, using their curved bills as a wedge to crack the shells. Males are elegant gray above, with barred underparts and tail. Females are brown on the back with chestnut barring below. Hook-billed Kites are distinctive in flight, with broad, rounded wings that are strongly barred black and white.

More ID Info
image of range map for Hook-billed Kite
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Hook-billed Kites are fairly common across much of their range, but often inconspicuous as they search for tree snails hidden in the canopy. Finding one in the United States is challenging; the best area lies along the Rio Grande between Falcon Dam and Santa Ana. Wherever you look for them, start early in the morning to listen for their calls. By mid-morning, they may be soaring, so scan the skies. A pile of fresh snail shells under a perch is also a good sign of their presence.

Other Names

  • Milano Picogarfio (Spanish)
  • Bec-en-croc de Temminck (French)
  • Cool Facts