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Double-toothed Kite
Harpagus bidentatus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Banded Double-toothed Hawk (fasciatus), Lawrence's Double-toothed Kite (fasciatus).

Harpagus bidentatus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Neotropical. Southwestern and southeastern MEXICO (Guerrero, southern Veracruz) south to western ECUADOR west of the Andes, and east of the Andes to northern BOLIVIA, and eastern and southern BRAZIL, including Amazonia; TRINIDAD; accidental in southern TEXAS. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. H. b. fasciatus: MEXICO (Guerrero, Veracruz, Quintana Roo) south through mostly humid Central America (scarce on Pacific slope) and PANAMA (including Isla Coiba) to western COLOMBIA and western ECUADOR (Pichincha); H. b. bidentatus: Eastern COLOMBIA and eastern ECUADOR south through Amazonia to eastern BOLIVIA and southeastern BRAZIL (Rio de Janeiro); TRINIDAD.

Taxonomy: This genus was originally placed in Falconidae because of the two "teeth" on the upper mandible (Sharpe 1874), but such features are not that unusual in kites and are not taxonomically significant (Miller 1937, Amadon 1961). Amadon (1961, 1964) argued that Harpagus a milvine kite, and Vesta and Stresemann (1960) found that the molt of the genus is typical of milvine kites. More recent researchers have placed the genus among the butenoines and close to Buteo, Accipiter, and Circus (Kemp and Crowe 1990, Griffiths 1994, Holdaway 1994, and Griffiths et al. 2007).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006). A juvenile dispersed at least 10 km from a nest in Guatemala (Schulze et al. 2000).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in middle elevations in the interior of primary upland forests, or late second-growth canopy, ranging lower at openings and appearing to prefer forest edges (Slud 1964, Skutch 1965). In Trinidad, it is found on high, open perches, or flying at just below treetop level, occasionally soaring (ffrench 1991), but in other areas, it is most often found perched in the interior of the forest at mid-levels. May soar, especially at midday, sometimes to great heights (Hilty and Brown 1986), but not to find food. Found singly, in pairs, or occasionally as pairs accompanied by a juvenile (Boinski and Scott 1988). Generally somewhat tame and unobtrusive, and Sick (1990) referred to its "somewhat lazy" disposition. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on lizards and insects (including butterflies) and rarely on birds, nestling birds, bats, snakes, and rats (Schulze et al. 2000). Other than the assertion by Todd and Carriker (1922) that this species feeds solely on small birds, only Schulz et al. (op cit.) reported predation on birds by this species. All hunts (n = 51) observed at Tikal National Park were initiated from a perch, and prey were taken at canopy, sub-canopy and occasionally ground level, with captures made with a sudden swoop or pounce or by parachuting slowly to the ground (Schulze et al. op cit.). These kites may also run along branches in pursuit of prey (Laughlin 1952, Wetmore 1965), or snatch slow-flying insects in mid-air (Stiles and Skutch 1989). In parts of its range, this species is regular follower of monkey troops, mostly small insectivorous species of Saimuri or Cebus, and mixed-species bird flocks to catch prey that they flush (Greenlaw 1967, Fontaine 1980, Boinski and Scott 1988, Heymann 1992). Aaron Baker (fide Schulze et al. op cit.) observed one of these kites taking bats on the wing near a presumed roost site, and Boinski and Timm (1985) found them preying on roosting Tent-making Bats. more....

Breeding: The nest is a shallow cup of twigs placed high (12-27 m) in the fork of two or more major limbs of a tree in closed-canopy forest, sometimes on a bromeliad, and usually at the forest edge (Schulze et al. 2000). Clutch size is 1-2 eggs, which are white with brown markings. The female conducts most of the nest building, all of the incubation duties, and brooding and most of the feeding of the young, and the male provides the majority of prey to the female, especially early in incubation. The incubation period is 42-45 days, and the nestling period ranged from 27-37 days at four nests (Schulze et al op cit.). The young are dependent upon the parents for at least two months, probably longer. more....

Conservation: Fairly common to common throughout most of its extensive range, but probably often overlooked. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Double-toothed Kite. Pp. 117 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Blake, E.R. 1977. Manual of Neotropical birds. 1. Spheniscidae (penguins)
  to Laridae (gulls and terns). University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Schulze, M., J.L. Córdova, N.E. Seavy, and D.F. Whitacre. 2000. Behavior,
  diet, and breeding biology of Double-toothed Kites at a Guatemalan lowland
  site. Condor 102:113-126.
Schulze, M.D., J.L. Córdova, N.E. Seavy, and D.F. Whitacre. 2012.
  Double-toothed Kite. Pp. 68-81 in D.F. Whitacre (ed.),
  Neotropical birds of prey: biology and ecology of a forest raptor community.
  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Skutch, A.F. 1965. Life history notes on two tropical American kites.
  Condor 67:235-246.
Skutch, A.F. 1981. New studies of tropical American birds. Publications
  of the Nuttall Ornithological Club no. 19. Nuttall Ornithological Club,
  Cambridge, MA.

Sites of Interest:
Double-toothed Kite photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account, with emphasis on Brazil.

Shrum, Peggy

Last modified: 7/27/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2017. Species account: Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 20 Feb. 2017

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