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Snail Kite

About Snail Kite

Small bird of prey with a long, slender hook to bill, large, broad wings and slightly notched tail. Male has black plumage, with broad white band at base of tail and narrower one at tail-tip; legs are red. Female dark brown with reddish edges to feathers of upperparts, heavily blotched with cream below, pale buff cheeks and stripe over eye; similar tail patterns to male.

Their breeding season varies. They make their nest small and loose where they nest in colonies in vegetation or low bushes (sometimes trees) growing near the water in or around. The males build their nest, a bulky nest of twigs lined with finer plant material. They have 2-5 white eggs, speckled and spotted with various shades of brown or reddish-brown, with large blotches of same color; incubated 26-28 days.

The Snail Kite is a bird of prey that feeds almost exclusively on just one kind of water snail. It can survive only in areas where there are continuously flooded areas that provide sufficient prey.

The Snail Kite scans its surroundings for snails both from their perch and by slow flapping flight on its big, paddle shaped wings.

After finding and catching the snail with just one foot, it will transfer it to its bill while still in flight, then it will take it to its favorite spot to eat it. When it eats the snail, it uses the long sickle-shaped upper mandible of its bill to neatly sever the muscle holding the snail’s body in its shell and takes out its fleshy award.

The Snail Kite will sit for a great deal of time waiting to spot an apple snail and then will swoop down upon it and will enjoy a wonderful meal.