WHITE-TAILED KITE


Elanus leucurus


Description:

This hawk like bird of prey is sometimes referred to as the "Black Shouldered Kite". This is one of the strangest birds of prey I have ever seen. It hunts by hovering in place, similiar to a Kestrel or Osprey, and can do so for a fairly long period of time. They will hover up to 100 feet above their unsuspecting prey. They hunt rodent, snakes, smaller birds, and amphibians.


Appearance:

Overall light gray/white body with black shoulders. Black area around eye. Short black hooked beak. Black carpal patches. Red eye. Pointed wings. 14 to 15 inches in length. 40 inch wingspan.


Habitat:

Open coastal plains and marshes.


Nesting:

4-5 white eggs with lots of brown spots and a 30 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 35-40 days after hatching. The nest is made from twigs and sticks, lined with grass. The nest is usually built in a tall tree near water.


Observed Locations:

  • Mission Trails Park, San Diego
  • Rose Canyon, University City
  • Poway
  • Santa Ysabel area





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