Monday, February 6, 2012

>Elanus leucurus (White-tailed Kite)

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite
White-tailed kite with prey.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Species:E. leucurus
Binomial name
Elanus leucurus
(Vieillot, 1818)
Elanus caeruleus leucurus
The White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) is an elanid kite of genus Elanus found in westernNorth America and parts of South America.
Their coloration is gull-like, but their shape and flight falcon-like, with a rounded tail. Mainly white underneath, they have black wingtips and shoulders.

White-tailed kite hovering.
For some recent decades, it united with the Black-winged Kite of Europe and Africa in Elanus caeruleus, and collectively called "Black-shouldered Kite". More recently it was argued that the White-tailed Kite differed from the Old World species in size, shape, plumage, and behavior, and that these differences were sufficient to warrant specific status. This argument was accepted by the American Ornithologists' Union, so the White-tailed Kite has its original name back. Meanwhile, theOld World E. caeruleus is again called Black-winged Kite, while the name Black-shouldered Kite is now reserved for an Australian species, Elanus axillaris, which had also been lumped into E. caeruleus but now regarded as separate again.

White-tailed kite roosting.
The White-tailed Kite was rendered almost extinct inCalifornia in the 1930s and 1940s by shooting andegg-collecting, but they are now common again. Their distribution is patchy, however – they can be seen in the Central Valley and southern coastal areas, open land around Goleta including the Ellwood Mesa Open Space, and also around the San Francisco Bay, but elsewhere they are still rare or absent. They are also found in southern Texas, on the Baja California peninsula, and in eastern Mexico, and on a global scale they are not considered threatened species by the IUCN. On rare occasions the bird can be found far afield. At different times, two had been sighted in New England as of 2010.
White-tailed Kites feed principally on rodents, and they are readily seen patrolling or hovering over lowland scrub or grassland. They rarely if ever eat bird, and even in open cerradomixed-species feeding flocks will generally ignore them.Outside the breeding season they roost communally in groups of up to 100.

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