Swallow-tailed Kite

photo by Phil Swanson

Elanoides forficatus
L 23″(58 cm) W 48″(122 cm).

Song or calls:
Loud whistled “klee-klee-klee” alarm call. During courtship, slowly whistled “tew-whee.”

Description: Sexes similar. Seen in flight this bird has a white body and black primaries and tail. Tail is deeply forked. When perched, has black back and white head. Again, forked tail is distinctive.

Habitat: Found in open woodlands and wetlands. Relies on tall trees to nest in, surrounded by open areas to hunt for small prey.

Food: Catches insects on the wing, also eat snakes, lizards, and young birds. Often eat their prey in flight.

Where in Nebraska: Extirpated from Nebraska. Used to breed in the eastern part of the state, disappearing after 1900. Today is found in the southeastern United States.

Fun Facts: The Swallow-tailed Kite frequently eats while flying.