White-Tailed Kite near Leola Marsh, Adams County, Wisconsin. Photographed on September 30, 2013.
Binomial name: Elanus leucurus
Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies
Description: White with black shoulders and wingtips; elongated wings and tail. Red eyes and yellow legs.
Size: 14” – 17” long, 35” – 40” wingspan
Weight: 8.8 oz. – 13 oz.
Habitat: Coastal areas, marshes, sparse woodlands, and grasslands
Diet: Rodents and other small mammals
Nesting: Both parents choose the nesting site and may participate in building the nest; sometimes only the female builds the nest. The nest is typically in the top third of a tree and is shallow and made with twigs and grasses or leaves. The female will lay an average of 4 eggs at a time, laying 1 brood per season. The incubation period lasts 30 to 32 days and the young remain in the nest for about 35 days.
Notes: The White-Tailed Kite can hover in midair 80 feet above the ground without flapping its wings by facing into the wind. This behavior is called “kiting,” thus the name White-Tailed Kite. From this stationary position, the White-Tailed Kite will plunge straight down to retrieve its prey.
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