|Snail Kite Rostrhamus
(aka Everglade Kite)
The Snail Kite has a very distinctive hooked bill. The male, as in photo 1, looks almost all slaty black although it has white at the base of the tail which also has a white band near the tip (see photo 5). Its legs and cere are red-orange and the iris is red. This distinguishes the Snail Kite from the Slender-billed Kite (Rostrhamus hamatus) which has a pale yellow iris, no white on the tail and tends to be found in more swampy forested habitat.
|The second and last photos
shows a female (or possibly an immature. Immature males take 4
years to reach full adult plumage.) The female is brown above and
heavily streaked below with a pale supercilium and
yellow to orange cere.
Snail Kites feed almost exclusively on Apple Snails which they snatch from shallow water with their feet then fly to a perch where they extract the snail from its shell with their specially adapted bill.
Apple Snail is also the main food of the Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) so anything
that affects the snails such as draining of wetland or the
introduction of non-native fish such as the Tilapia can do
enormous harm to several species further up the food
See the Opus page on this species at Birdforum.
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