Snail Kite

Snail Kite, Belize

Snail Kite, Belize

This unique raptor is named for the prey it hunts:  snails.  They eat a fresh water snail called apple snail that can get as big as a softball.  Their curved bill is the perfect equipment for digging inside the snail’s hard shell.


While cruising Crooked Tree Sanctuary’s lagoon one day, we saw several Rostrhamus sociabilis.   This bird of prey can be found in parts of Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean and Florida.


We found apple snails (generally about the size of an Oreo) and their eggs all over the Belizean lagoon, but if the snail kite cannot find its #1 menu item, they will settle for crayfish.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


22 thoughts on “Snail Kite

    • Great question Amy! They’re about 15″ tall, with a wingspan of between 3 and 4 feet. For comparison, they are a few inches smaller than a red-tailed hawk. Thanks Amy! 😀

  1. That beak looks like it could do some serious damage. Beware to all Apple Snails! Thank you for this Jet. I had never heard of a Snail Kite, not an Apple Snail for that matter. 🙂

    • I’m really glad you enjoyed the post, BJ. How truly wonderful to have limpkins in your environment, they, too, are such a wonderful bird to observe. I have seen limpkins on only two occasions, and boy did I ever enjoy them. Great to hear from you! 😀

    • The kite glides low over the marsh and uses one foot to pick up the snail (which is usually on a log or plant). Then the kite flies to a tree and perches, and extracts the snail from the shell. Great question RH! Thanks for your interest! 😀

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