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South Florida Snail Kite | South Florida Everglades Tours | April 26, 2015

Posted by Manny Miami on 25th Apr 2015

South Florida Snail Kite | South Florida Everglades Tours | April 26, 2015

The Snail Kite is a medium-sized hawk which lives in central and south Florida.

The snail kite became one of the first species to be appointed to the endangered species

list under the Federal Wildlife Protection Act. It was first listed as endangered on

March 11, 1967.There are many reasons Snail Kite is endangered.

Status: Endangered

Habitat: The habitat of the Snail Kite consists of fresh-water marshes and the shallow

vegetated edges of lakes as well as the Everglades. The habitat the snail kite lives in is made up of

open water, spike rush, and patches of sawgrass and cattails. Snail Kites prefer and demand open

water in order to see apple snails, hence the name of the animal. The new growing vegetation allows Apple Snails to

climb, near the surface to feed, breathe or lay eggs, which consequently allows Snail Kites to feed on them.

The Snail kite normally grows to between 14 and 16 inches long, with a wingspan typically

43-46 inches long, and weighs a mere, 12-20 ounces. Females are larger than males in size and

weight.They both have red eyes, a square-tipped tail with a white base. Both female and male have

black curved beaks and black curved talons.

Adult male: Dark gray plumage, darker flight feathers than females, red legs and cheeks.

Adult female: Dark brown upper body, with a heavily streaked lower body or plumage, white eyebrows, yellow

or orange legs and cheeks, typically young birds more closely resemble adult females.

Diet: Sometimes the Everglade Snail Kite takes other food items, particularly small turtles,

but it mostly eats freshwater apple snails. They capture snails mainly by hunting from the air,

or sometimes by still-hunting from a perch. When a Kite spots an apple snail, it drops to the

surface and plucks the snails from the top few inches of water. The bird then, using its

thin curved bill pulls the snail from its shell.

The breeding season is between February and July. The birds usually nest in a loose

of bulky construction such as low shrubs or trees that are about 13 inches in

diameter and located 3 to 10 feet above the water.

Nesting: Usually, 2 to 4 eggs are laid, which range from whitish to brown, but are usually

splattered with browns and tans. Incubation lasts for almost 27 days and the nestlings fly

after 4 to 5 weeks. Parents continue to feed their young for several weeks after they start

flying.