Snail Kite 

"Escargot" by Aaron Blaise (digital)

 
Everglades Kites, or Snail Kites as we called them are so specialized to our Everglades environment. Their only food is the apple snail. As a matter of fact, the kite’s beak is specially adapted for plucking the snail from its shell. Unfortunately, with so much water diversion in south Florida, the apple snail numbers have dwindled and therefore so have the Kite’s.
— Aaron Blaise

Also known as Everglades Snail Kite.

Habitat

Snail Kites can be found in both South and Central America,  Mexico and Cuba. The U.S. has small population concentrated in Florida wetlands, including the Everglades.

Map__Snail Kite.jpg

Family Life

The Snail Kite also nests in colonies in low trees and bushes, typically on a thin branch. Parents take turns incubating the one to four eggs laid by the female for one month.

Lifespan

The lifespan of the snail kite is approximately 14 years.

Hunting Habits/Diet

Snail Kites feed on almost exclusively on apple snails, which restrict them to marshy areas along the shores and islands of major lakes.

Population

The Everglades population consists of only 400 to 500 breeding pairs, however the overall population of snail kites appears to be increasing. 

Why are they Endangered?

Their highly specific diet composed entirely of apple snails poses a challenge to the survival of the snail kite because of pervasive destruction of the habitat of these snails. Pollution and illegal hunting also negatively impact the Everglades population.

Status

Least Concern
 

Male Snail Kite Eating an Apple Snail - Panama