White-tailed Kite

ID Info
Silhouette KitesKites

White-tailed Kite

Elanus leucurus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae
Basic Description

Grasslands and savannas are great places to fly a kite and that's exactly where you will find the White-tailed Kite, flying as if it were attached to a kite string. With its body turned toward the wind and wings gently flapping, it hovers above the ground, a behavior that’s so distinctive it’s become known as kiting. From above it tips its head down to look for small mammals moving in the grass below. Its white underparts, gleaming white tail, and black shoulder patches are its other marks of distinction.

More ID Info
image of range map for White-tailed KiteRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

White-tailed Kites have a limited distribution in the United States, so your best bet is to head to a grassland in California or Texas. They generally start foraging just after dawn, when you'll likely catch them hovering into the wind with their head hanging down. You might also be able to catch them hovering in grassy fields at the edges of highways as you drive by. During the nonbreeding season, head out around dusk to watch groups come into roost in trees and tall shrubs at the edges of grasslands.

Other Names
  • Elanio Maromero (Spanish)
  • Élanion à queue blanche (French)
  • Cool Facts