|Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis
(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.
|The 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 chain.
See the Opus page on this species at Birdforum.
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