Swallow-tailed Kite

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Image:SwallowtailedKite.jpg

Common Name: Swallow-tailed Kite
Scientific Name: Elanoides forficatus

Size: 20-27 inches (50-68 cm); Wingspan: 43-52 inches (112-136 cm)

Habitat: The Americas; migratory populations occur in summer from the southeastern United States south through Central America, and also in southern Brazil. Resident populations in much of northern South America are supplemented by migrants both from the north and south.

Swallow-tailed kites inhabit mostly woodland and forested wetlands near nesting locations.

Status: Least Concern to Endangered. Global population: Unknown amount of adult individuals with an increasing population trend. While not formally listed as endangered or threatened by the federal government in the United States, this kite is listed as endangered by the state of South Carolina and as threatened by the state of Texas. They are listed as "rare" by the state of Georgia. Destruction of habitats is chiefly responsible for the decline in numbers. A key conservation area is the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

Diet: Small reptiles (snakes, lizards and frogs), large insects (grasshoppers and crickets), small birds and eggs, and sometimes small mammals. Fruit is sometimes eaten in South American populations.

It drinks by skimming the surface and collecting water in its beak and frequently eats while flying.

Nesting: Male and female individuals appear similar. It has a white head, white underparts, and white underwing coverts that contrast sharply with glossy black upperparts and entirely black flight feathers. The tail is long and deeply forked and the wings are long and pointed. Immature kites are duller in color than the adults, and the tail is not as deeply forked.

Mating occurs from March to May, with the female laying 2 to 4 eggs. The twig nest is placed in the canopy of a tall tree, often in the smallest branches to avoid terrestrial predators. Incubation lasts 28 days, and 36 to 42 days to fledge.

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.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume III: Hawks of the New World

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