The range of the
Swallow-tailed Kite once stretched through much of the southeastern United
States, with stragglers ranging as far north as South Dakota and
Minnesota. The present U.S. range of the species is now largely restricted
to Florida, and locally elsewhere in the extreme Southeast.
Habitat: Primarily found in wooded swamps with
nearby open land.
Diet: Feeds primarily on large
insects. Also eats lizards, snakes, frogs, and young birds. Known to also
feed on fruit on its wintering grounds.
Behavior: An extremely graceful and beautiful
flyer, capable of a very wide range of flying maneuvers. Catches
insects while in flight, and will feed while in flight. Will also
capture prey from vegetation, usually catching them by flying by and not
Breeding Map: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Thin high whistle.
Migration: Summers in Florida and locally elsewhere in
the extreme Southeast. A long-distance migrant, wintering in South America.
Similar Species: Generally unmistakable if seen
well. General shape can suggest Frigatebirds (don't have to worry about
that much in South Dakota).
Status: The Swallow-tailed Kite historically had a
much larger range than it does now. Numbers are generally stable
within its current U.S. range, and it may be beginning to expand its range
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Swallow-tailed Kite
Photo Information: August, 2003 -- Near Fairfax,
South Carolina -- Joe