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Everglade snail kite

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Author Topic: Everglade snail kite  (Read 46 times)
BrokenWing
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« on: March 20, 2009, 04:18:16 am »

BrokenWing Chronicles
Everglade snail kite
(Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus)

General Information

The Everglade snail kite is a medium-sized hawk with a wingspan of about 45 inches, very similar to the marsh hawk but without wavering, tilting flight. The beak is slender and very hooked. The adult males are slate gray with black head and wing tips, a white patch at the base of a square tail, and red legs. The female has a buffy body, heavily streaked with dark lines, a white line above the eye, a white tail patch, yellow legs, and red eyes. The immatures resemble the females, only they are darker and their eyes are brown. The snail kite is uniquely adapted for a diet almost exclusively of freshwater apple snails (Pomacea paludosa). As of 1987, there were only five documented occurrences of Everglade snail kites preying on non-snail items. Exclusive utilization of the genus Pomacea is apparently because this is the only large Florida snail occurring near the surface. The kite extracts the snail from the shell by means of its greatly curved beak.

KINGDOM:   Animal                  GROUP:    Bird  
    
PHYLUM:    Chordata                CLASS:    Aves  
ORDER:     Falconiformes           FAMILY:   Accipitridae  
    
Adult Everglade snail kites are sexually dimorphic, with females  
slightly larger than males.  The adult male is slate gray with black
wing tips.  The square tail is black with a large white patch at its
base and a narrow white terminal band.  The unfeathered soft parts of  
the adult male are orange-red and become more intense during the
breeding season.  The eyes of adults are red and those of immatures
are brown.  Females and immature males are brown and buffy above with  
the underparts white to buffy and heavily streaked with dark brown.
The tail pattern of the brown-plumaged birds is similar to that of the  
adult male.  The color of the soft parts of all females and immature
males ranges from yellow to orange (04).  In the field, adult females  
can not be distinguished from immature males except by eye color or
behavior during breeding

Kites in Florida, with a few rare exceptions, are completely  
     dependent upon the apple snail (Pomacea paludosa) for food.
Snails are available to kites only when the marsh is flooded.  
Snails are captured while they are near the water surface
     feeding, traversing, or while resting on aquatic vegetation below the  
     surface.  Kites hunt over relatively open water areas, containing  
     minimal emergent aquatic vegetation.  Kites hunt by two
     methods; still-hunting (initiated from a convenient perch over water)  
     and course-hunting (on the wing).
          The creation of water conservation areas (reservoirs) has been a  
     great secondary benefit to the kite population by flooding parts, or
     all of the area for several years.  
          Lands surrounding snail kite habitat are used for such purposes
     as urban residential areas, croplands (including mellons, rice, corn,  
     and other vegetables), pasture, and citrus groves.  These uses have
     directly replaced snail kite habitat and they continue to influence
     the remaining kite habitat by affecting water quality within Lake  
     Okeechobee and surrounding marshes

REPRODUCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS:  
     Nesting may occur in loose colonies or singularly.
Courtship display takes place any time during the day in the air or at  
a perch.  Aerial displays include undulating flight, slow flight,  
grappling, tumbling, pendulum flight, and mutual soaring, and may  
include carrying a stick in the bill and vocalization.
Courtship feeding and/or presentation of a stick to a female by the
male often takes place prior to copulation.
     Breeding by snail kites generally takes place by the time the  
birds are 3 to 4 years old but on occasion they may breed as young as  
one year of age.  Copulation takes place while perched, lasts  
3 to 30 seconds per breeding attempt, and may occur from early stages  
of nest construction through laying of eggs in a completed nest.  
Clutch size ranges from 1 to 6 eggs with a mean of 2.92 (N=313  
clutches).  Both members of the pair share in incubation.
Incubation ranges from 24 to 30 days with a mean of 27.4 days and may  
begin after the first egg is laid, but generally begins after the  
second egg is deposited.  The pair bond is probably for only one  
nesting cycle.  The beginning of breeding activities in Florida
varied from year to year.  Some breeding activity has been recorded in  
Florida every month, but not necessarily in the same year.  Peak  
egg laying months were February, March, and April with substantial  
activity in January and May.

The Link
http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/esis/lists/e104011.htm

Informational Link.
http://library.thinkquest.org/25014/profiles/kite/index.html










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