Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hook-billed jite

Chondrohierax uncinatus

(Photo from Wiki Aves de Colombia)

Common name:
hook-billed kite (en); caracoleiro (pt); milan bec-en-croc (fr); milano picogarfio (es); langschnabelweih (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This species is found from Mexico, and marginally in southern Texas, south to northern Argentina, Paraguay and south-eastern Brazil. They are also found in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

These birds are 38-41 cm long and have a wingspan of 78-98 cm. They weigh 215-400 g.

The hook-billed kite is mostly found in moist tropical forests, including swamp forests and gallery forests, as well as mangroves, dry tropical forests, dry scrublands and shade coffee plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.700 m.

They feed mainly on tree snails, such as Homolanyx, Polymita and Bulimulus wiebesi, as well as some ground snails, using their hooked bill to remove the flesh from the shell. They also hunt frogs, salamanders, lizards, birds, large insects and spiders.

Hook-billed kites breed in March-November. The nest is a flimsy, unlined platform made of small twigs. It is placed in a fork or horizontal branch of a tree, usually 5-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 dull white eggs with chocolate brown blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 34-35 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 35-45 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 200.000 individuals. The population is declining owing to deforestation which is leading to loss of suitable tree snail prey and, locally, to persecution by farmers who mistakenly believe it preys upon chickens.

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