Hook-billed Kite is a rather odd raptor that just reaches the U.S. in
extreme southern Texas. It was unknown in the U.S. until the 1960s,
but now seems to be a permanent resident in the forested woodlands along the
Rio Grande. The strongly hooked bill is used to extract the "meat"
from its main prey, tree snails. The species has a widespread
geographic range, and is found in much of Mexico, Central America, and South
America. Plumage and bill size are quite variable between geographic
locations, with bill size seemingly correlated to the size of snails in
their foraging range.
Habitat: Seems to be found in most forested
habitats where tree snails are common. In the tiny U.S. portion of
their range, they are found in deciduous forests along the Rio Grande.
Diet: Feeds mostly on tree snails, although they
will also take large insects, small lizards and snakes, and small
Behavior: Climbs through the vegetation more like
a parrot than a raptor, searching for tree snails.
Nesting: Both the male and female help to build a
loose nest of sticks. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and raise
Song: Gives a cackling series of chatters.
Migration: Considered a permanent resident
throughout its range.
Conservation Status: The species has a wide
geographic distribution, and the IUCN lists it as a species of "Least
Concern". However, there are certain sub-species and local populations
of Hook-billed Kites that are threatened.