Kite, a hawklike bird with long, pointed wings and a long tail. It is noted for its ability to soar and glide. Kites are found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and from the southern United States to South America. They live mainly in marshes and woods, feeding on insects, snakes, snails, and small mammals. North American species are the swallow-tailed kite, a bird with black-and-white feathers and a deeply forked tail; the Mississippi kite, dark gray with a black tail; the Everglade, or snail, kite, dark gray with red legs (male) or buff with brown streaks (female); and the white-tailed kite, pale gray with white on the tail, head, and underparts. The black-shouldered kite, found throughout most parts of the world, resembles the white-tailed kite; the common names of the two birds are often used interchangeably. Several species of kites are endangered because of loss of habitat.The kite is noted for its ability to soar and glide.
This snail kite catches its food while flying. It snatches up dragonflies and other large insects with its claws. Or, it zooms past a tree and grabs a lizard or a frog from a branch. The kite also drinks while in flight. It flies down low over the water to sip.
Kites also do some of their nest-building tasks “on the wing.” Kites use twigs to build their nests. To gather the twigs, they fly over the treetops. They break off small branches while they are still in flight.
Kites belong to the family Accipitridae. The swallow-tailed kite is Elanoides forficatus; the Mississippi, Ictinia mississippiensis; the Everglade, Rostrhmus sociabilis plumbeus; the white-tailed, Elanus leucurus; the black-shouldered, Elanus caeruleus.