The Hook-billed Kite
A Hook-billed Kite is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Hook-billed Kites. We have also put together a list of fun Hook-billed Kite t-shirts, Hook-billed Kite bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Hook-billed Kites
The Hook-billed Kite is a mid-sized to fairly large bird in the family Accipitridae. The family also includes other diurnal raptors such as the eagles, harriers, and kites. It is native to North America especially in Texas but can also be seen in the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico, Central America, tropical South America, and the Caribbean. Population in the tropical regions has declined due to the clearing of their habitats. Two related birds are now endangered in Cuba and Grenada.
Description and Identification
These raptors are medium-sized slender raptors approximately 15 – 20 inches long, with a
striped belly and a banded tail. Their plumages offer a large range of variations among the
populations inhabiting the different regions of the Americas; this often renders identification
very difficult for observers. Adult males tend to look blackish or gray while females tend to
look brown or brick-red. While the size of the bill is variable among the raptors, their
downcurved and hooked bill is what identifies them as distinct from other raptors.
Hook-billed Kite Color Pattern
They have an invariably stripped belly which is reddish-brown and white though from beneath, while they are in flight, they look black. The undertail is white with a gray band and their eyes are circled by a greenish-yellow color. The head is gray and the back is black. Just above the eye is a yellow spot.
Hook-billed Kite Size
The Hook-billed Kite is a mid-sized slender bird with a length of 38-51cm and a wingspan of 78-98cm. The bird weighs between 215-397g.
Hook-billed Kite Behavior
They like staying on their favorite perch for long periods in canopies. They favor eating snails and can be seen walking about in branches looking for tree snails which they eat on the spot. A clear way bird watchers can take note of their presence in the empty snail shells on the ground below a tree line.
When it gets the tree snail, the bird holds it down with its talon and uses its beak to pry open the shell.
Hook-billed Kite Food
Tree snails are the most important component of their diet, with the populations of tree snails
being directly proportional to the presence of Hook-billed Kites in the region. It has been
hypothesized that these raptors exhibit such a variation in size and shape in response to the
variety of the species of tree snails available in different geographical regions. Their other
prey includes frogs, salamanders, small mammals, and insects as well. Their foraging
behavior is not well known and is apparently done by climbing and walking about the upper
branches of trees. It is, however, known that upon finding a tree snail, they hold it against the
branch with their left foot and break open the shell.
As stated above, the Hook-billed Kite predominantly feeds on the tree snail. They also feed on frogs, salamander, and insects.
Hook-billed Kite Habitat
Hook-billed Kites are common in forested habitats where tree snails are common. In their
limited range in the United States, they are primarily found in deciduous forests along the
Rio Grande Valley. Populations further south in Mexico favor deciduous woodlands as well
but are also commonly found in semi-arid woodlands and in humid tropical forests further
southwards. While they do thrive in warmer climates, their habitats seem to be centered on
the availability of tree snails to feed on.
They are found in native deciduous woodlands in Texas while in subtropical zones, they are found in regions like the Rio Grande. Areas with humid tropical forests will also favor their habitat as is full of tree snails.
Range and Migration
Hook-billed Kites are radiant birds of prey found in the Americas along the Rio Grande
Valley of Texas, through Mexico and Central America, till tropical South America. These
slender raptors are permanent residents of their breeding locations and thrive in tropical
habitats in most of Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Hook-billed Kite Life Cycle
They have a lifespan of about 12 years. The females lay 2-3 eggs per brooding season which they incubate by both parents although the period is unknown.
Hook-billed Kite Nesting
While details of their courtship rituals are not known, the nests are built by both members of
the pair in a tree approximately 15 – 25 feet above the ground. The nest is a loose platform
of sticks with almost no lining, with both members taking turns incubating the eggs. Nesting behavior is not well known but breeding has been reported to occur during the months of May and June.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Hook-billed Kites
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Hook-billed Kites are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Hook-billed Kite T-shirts
If you love the Hook-billed Kite you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Hook-billed Kite Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Hook-billed Kite is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Hook-billed Kite Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Hook-billed Kite. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Hook-billed Kites
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Hook-billed Kites
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.