The Swallow-tailed kite is a beautiful and graceful raptor.
Northeast, Florida, USA
MEASUREMENTS: Body length of 19 – 26 inches, a 4-foot wingspan, and weighs 13 – 17 ounces.
HABITAT: These kites live in tropical and subtropical forests with swamps, marshes, and other wet areas. Swallow-tailed Kites are found in the southeast United States and southward through Central America and tropical South America.
DIET: The Swallow-tailed Kite usually eats insects, but will also take small birds and nestlings, reptiles, and amphibians. Their prey may be gleaned from the tree tops as the bird flies slowly over the canopy. Insects may be taken in midair and eaten while the kite is flying.
REPRODUCTION: Swallow-tailed Kites build twig nests at the top of tall trees. Many pairs may nest close together. Both males and females share all the duties of rearing the young. The female lays 1 – 3 eggs that are incubated for 28 – 31 days. The young kites fledge from 5 1/2 – 7 weeks after hatching.
NAME DERIVATION: The scientific name comes from a Latin-Greek hybridization of the words elanus, meaning a kite; eidos, meaning to resemble or be similar to; and forfex, for scissors, which refers to the forked tail. The common name refers to the similarity to the forked-tails of some swallows. This kite has also been known as a Fork-tailed Kite, Swallow-tailed Hawk, and Scissor-tailed Kite.
Swallow-tailed Kites formerly occurred from Oklahoma, Texas, and Minnesota, to Florida. Their range in the United States decreased probably from persecution, changes in land use, and cutting of large river-bottom trees.
Swallow-tailed Kites are among the most adept and acrobatic fliers of all raptors.
Reference: The Peregrine Fund