Snail kite Facts

Snail kite Facts
Snail kite is a bird of prey that belongs to the family of hawks. This bird can be found in the southern parts of Florida, on the Caribbean and in the tropical parts of South America. Snail kite inhabits freshwater wetlands, marshes and edges of the lakes. Snail kite is highly specialized for diet based on apple snails. Number of these snails in Florida is decreasing which negatively affects survival of snail kites. Almost all wild populations of snail kites are large and stable. Snail kites from Florida are listed as endangered.
Interesting Snail kite Facts:
Snail kite can reach 14 to 19 inches in length and 11 to 20 ounces of weight. Females are slightly larger than males.
Males are covered with dark blue-grey feathers. Flying feathers are darker than the rest of the body. Females are covered with dark brown feathers with pale-colored under parts intersected with numerous stripes. They have white face with dark areas around eyes.
Snail kite has red eyes, deeply curved beak, long red or orange-colored legs and elongated tail with white rump.
Snail kite has a wingspan of 4 feet. When it flies, it combines slow wing beats with gliding on the air currents.
Snail kite flies with head positioned downwards to facilitate finding of the prey.
Snail kite is classified as molluscivore - an animal specialized for diet based on snails. Other than apple snails, snail kite occasionally eats rodents, crayfish, crabs and turtles.
When the snail is caught, snail kite uses sharp bill to extract the snail from the shell. It cuts through the spine muscle which holds the snail attached to the shell. Snail kite is able to extract the snail from the shell even during the flight.
Snail kite is gregarious bird that gathers and lives in large flocks.
Snail kite produces several different calls, such as "ka-ka-ka-ka-ka", "ker-wuck" and "kor-ee-ee-a, koree-a", for communication.
Snail kites are able to mate all year round, but they prefer period from February to July.
Males provide food and building material for the nests as a part of the courtship ritual. Nests are often located near the water which offers protection against predators.
Female lays 1 to 4 white-brownish eggs. Eggs hatch after incubation period of 26 to 28 days. Both parents participate in the incubation and rearing of the chicks.
When food is abundant, one parent can leave the nest and find new partner to produce another offspring. During the periods of scarcity, both parents stay with their chicks.
Chicks learn to fly at the age of 6 to 7 weeks. It takes at least 2 weeks for young birds to master extraction of the snail from the shell. Snail kite reaches sexual maturity before the age of one year.
Life span of snail kite is unknown.

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