Welcome to the Birds of North America Online!
Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.
A subscription is needed to access the remaining articles for this and any other species. Subscription rates start as low as $5 USD for 30 days of complete access to the resource. To subscribe, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.
If you are already a current subscriber, you will need to sign in with your login information to access BNA normally.
Subscriptions are available for as little as $5 for 30 days of full access! If you would like to subscribe to BNA Online, just visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology E-Store.
The gregarious Snail Kite is a medium-sized raptor that ranks among the most specialized of the world’s Falconiformes. Formerly called the Everglade Kite or Snail Hawk, it ranges from southern Mexico to northern Argentina and resides in the United States only in peninsular Florida. It is semi-nomadic and locally common on flooded freshwater marshes, around shallow lakes, and along freshwater courses. A dietary specialist, it feeds almost exclusively on freshwater apple snails of the genus Pomacea; its sickle-like bill is well adapted for removing these snails from their shells. This kite nests in loose colonies or solitarily, has an unusual mating system, and uses communal roosts, frequently in association with Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga) and colonial wading birds.
The species was first described in 1817 from near the Rio de la Plata and the Corrientes District of Argentina (Vieillot 1817), but it was not discovered in Florida until April 1844, when Edward Harris (1844) collected an immature male at the head of the Miami River in what is now downtown Miami. Although three subspecies of Snail Kite have been recognized in the past, current research suggests none are valid (see Systematics).
Since 1950 the Snail Kite has been widely studied in North America, but has received less attention in Central and South America. In Florida, it was classified as an Endangered Species in 1967. Unless otherwise specified, all material presented in this account refers to Florida populations.
Reichert, Brian E., Christopher E. Cattau, Robert J. Fletcher, Jr., P. W. Sykes, Jr., J. A. Rodgers, Jr. and R. E. Bennetts. 2015. Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/171