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WHITE-TAILED KITE } Elanus leucurus

RANGE: Western United States, Florida, Central and South America

STATUS: The global population of white-tailed kites is considered Common, but with some current local declines; Critically Imperiled in Florida and Louisiana, Imperiled in Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

THREATS: Habitat loss, human persecution, use of pesticides

White-tailed kites are easily identified by their bright-white plumage and black wingtips and shoulders, as well as their habit of hovering like a kite over lowland scrub or grasslands while hunting for small mammals. Outside the breeding season, white-tailed kites roost communally in groups of up to 100 or more birds. Their numbers decreased drastically—nearly to the point of extinction—in the 1930s and 1940s due to shooting and egg collecting, but now these birds are becoming more common.

Photo courtesy California Department of Fish and Game