White-Tailed Kite

Elanus leucurus
Range Map

The White-Tailed Kite is resident (non migratory) wherever it lives. We usually find it in open grasslands where it is often seen hovering in a fixed aerial position. This is where it gets its ‘kite’ name. In the USA, they live throughout much of California, western Oregon, parts of southern Texas, and southern Florida. These birds are declining in numbers. Observers say we’ve lost 36% between 1970 and 2014. Urban and suburban development have had a negative impact on the success of these birds.

In Poway, where I’m from in San Diego County, there are grasslands south of town that used to host families of these snowy raptors. Alas, the blades of progress seem to have driven these amazing birds from these once productive acres.

Today’s science recognises two subspecies of White-Tailed Kite:

  • E. l. majusculus lives in North America.
  • E. l. leucurus lives in South America.

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