Once considered endangered
in North America, the White-tailed Kite has greatly expanded in numbers and
range since the 1930s. They are heavily dependent upon large populations
of small rodents such as mice and voles, and probably have benefited greatly
from the introduction of the House Mouse to North America. Previously
known as the Black-shouldered Kite.
Habitat: Prefers open habitats with perches for
hunting, and with suitable nesting sites. This includes marshes and wetlands,
farmland, grassland, and prairie.
Diet: Primarily feeds on small rodents,
especially mice and voles. Will also eat other small mammals, birds, and
occasionally snakes, lizards, frogs, and large insects.
Behavior: Hunts in flight, hovering to spot prey,
and then diving to catch it.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout
its normal range, but individuals can wander widely.
Conservation Status: Has increased in numbers and range since
the early 20th century, when it was persecuted needlessly by farmers who
thought it threatened their poultry. Now found in areas it wasn't
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - White-tailed Kite
eNature.com - White-tailed Kite
Photo Information: Out-of-state photo,
courtesy of Daniella Theoret.