Taxonomy[ edit ] The white-tailed kite was described in by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot under the binomial name Milvus leucurus with the type locality as Paraguay. The specific epithet leucurus is from the Ancient Greek leukouros for "white-tailed": leukos is "white" and oura is "tail". Meanwhile, the Old World E. Description[ edit ] The coloration of the white-tailed kite is gull -like, but its shape and flight is falcon-like, with a rounded tail.
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White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus As recently as the s, this graceful hawk was considered rare and endangered in North America, restricted to a few sites in California and Texas. In recent decades, it has increased greatly in numbers and spread into many new areas. It is often seen hovering on rapidly beating wings over open fields, looking for small rodents, its main food source.
The introduction of the house mouse from Europe may have played a part in its increase; formerly, the kite fed almost entirely on voles. Conservation status North American population has been increasing and spreading since about the s, invading many new areas where it was never known historically. Has also spread and increased in American tropics with clearing of forest. Family Hawks and Eagles Habitat Open groves, river valleys, marshes, grasslands.
Found in a wide variety of open habitats in North America, including open oak grassland, desert grassland, farm country, marshes. Main requirements seem to be trees for perching and nesting, and open ground with high populations of rodents. As recently as the s, this graceful hawk was considered rare and endangered in North America, restricted to a few sites in California and Texas.
Eggs Usually 4, sometimes 5, rarely May tend to lay larger clutches in years when rodents are abundant. Eggs creamy white, blotched with shades of warm brown. Incubation is by female, days. Male usually perches nearby, and brings food to female during incubation. Young: Female broods young while they are small; male brings food, and female feeds it to nestlings. Later, prey is dropped into nest, and young feed on it themselves. Young are able to fly at about days, but may return to nest to sleep or to be fed for some time after.
Adults may nest a 2nd time in same season, and if so, young from first nesting may be driven from territory. Young Female broods young while they are small; male brings food, and female feeds it to nestlings.
Diet Mostly small rodents. Specializes on small rodents that are active by day in open country, particularly voles and house mice. Other items in diet, mostly of minor importance, include pocket gophers, harvest mice, rats, shrews, young rabbits, sometimes birds. Rarely may eat snakes, lizards, frogs, large insects. Nesting In courtship, male flies near female in odd hovering with wings in sharp "V," calling; male feeds female.
Live-oak often chosen as nest site. Nest built by both sexes is a good-sized platform of sticks and twigs, lined with grasses, weeds, Spanish moss.
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