Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Swallow-tailed kite

Elanoides forficatus

Photo by David Brassington (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This American species is found from the south-east of the United States, along Central America and into South America down to Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, southern Brazil and northern Argentina. The northern birds migrate south and may be found in the Caribbean during migration.

This medium-sized raptor is 50-64 cm long and has a wingspan of 122-130 cm. They weigh up to 600 g.

They are only found in forested habitats, often lowland forests along rivers. They are also common in open pine woodland.

Although mostly insectivorous, taking large insects in flight. They are also known to hunt small reptiles, amphibians, small birds and eggs, and small mammals.

Swallow-tailed kites start breeding in March. Both male and female build the nest on a tree top, often near water. The nest is made of twigs, sticks, hay and dead moss. The female lays 2-4 white eggs with cinnamon spots, which are incubated by both parents for 28 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 36-42 days until fledging.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
These birds have a very large breeding range and a population of 150.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable, with northern populations showing an increasing trend. the main threat to this species is habitat loss, but they are not considered threatened at present.

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