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Snail Kite

Silhouette KitesKites
Snail KiteRostrhamus sociabilis
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae

Basic Description

The highly specialized Snail Kite flies on broad wings over tropical wetlands as it hunts large freshwater snails. These handsome gray-and-black raptors have a delicate, strongly curved bill that fits inside the snail shells to pull out the juicy prey inside. Unlike most other raptors, Snail Kites nest in colonies and roost communally, sometimes among other waterbirds such as herons and Anhingas. They are common in Central and South America but in the U.S. they occur only in Florida and are listed as Federally Endangered.

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

Snail Kites are very conspicuous birds, especially when they begin hunting snails in the morning. They fly low around bodies of water or perch in the open near water. As temperatures rise, they may soar rather high, sometimes with Wood Storks or Anhingas, so it is worth keeping an eye skyward for them. Although Snail Kites inhabit most suitable wetlands near the Everglades in Florida, they are somewhat nomadic, moving around to the best areas for feeding. Consulting eBird is a good way to narrow where and when to search.

Other Names

  • Caracolero Común (Spanish)
  • Milan des marais (French)
  • Cool Facts