Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Plumbeous Kite
Ictinia plumbea

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Lead Kite.

Ictinia plumbea
click to enlarge
Distribution: Neotropical. Breeds from northeastern MEXICO (Tamaulipas) south along both slopes of Central America to South America west of the Andes to southwestern ECUADOR and east of the Andes south to PARAGUAY, URUGUAY, and northern ARGENTINA; TRINIDAD; populations in MEXICO, Central America, and southern South America are migratory and winter in southern South America south to central ARGENTINA. Southernmost austral populations are also migratory and winter north of the breeding range. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic. more....

Taxonomy: Forms a superspecies with I. mississippiensis, and some authors (e.g., Sutton 1944) have regarded them as conspecific. The studies of Lerner and Mindell (2005) and Lerner et al. (2008), based on molecular sequences from two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear intron, showed that this genus is more closely related to the buteonine taxa than to other kites and that it does not fall into any of the three kite clades, Elaninae, Perninae, or Milvinae. The molecular study of Griffiths et al. (2007) also confirmed this finding.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Mexican, Central American, and austral South American populations are migratory and move to more equatorial latitudes in their respective non-breeding seasons, often in flocks containing more than 100 birds and frequently accomjpanying Swallow-tailed Kites. In Central America, this species departs about two months earlier in the fall and returns six weeks earlier in the spring than migrating Mississippi Kites (Monroe 1968). In some areas, e.g., French Guiana, these kites engage in local movements, and numbers may fluctuate daily, as well as seasonally (Thiollay 2007). Eisenmann (1963) suggested that Plumbeous Kites migrate from tropical breeding areas to avoid the dry season, when insects, its principal prey, are more scarce. more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and at middle elevations in forest patches, riparian forest, open pastures and savannas with trees, selectively logged woodland, recently plowed or burning fields, and mangroves; rarely found in dense forest. Spends much time soaring, either alone, in pairs, or in small flocks, including those of other species. Also often perches high in trees in exposed locations. Not particularly wary. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on insects, including ants, and termites, as well as larger flying types (cicadas, orthopterans, dragonflies), and also takes a few bats, birds, snakes, and lizards. Several birds may gather to feed at termite emergences. Plucks prey from vegetation with feet, or catches insects with their feet and devours them in flight (Haverschmidt 1962, ffrench 1991). Sometimes seeks out burned areas, where it captures small reptiles on ground (Sick 1989). Ferrari (1990) documented a foraging association between this species and Buffy-headed Marmosets in Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil, with the kites exploiting prey (mostly cicadas) flushed by the activities of the monkeys. more....

Breeding: The nest is a small, but solid, flat cup-shaped platform of sticks lined with leaves and placed at mid-levels or high in the crotch of a tree. In Argentina, nests are lined with Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) (Di Giacomo 2005). The same nest may be used in successive years. Clutch size is usually 1 egg, sometimes 2, mostly at the extremes of the range. The eggs are white or bluish-white, usually immaculate, but occasionally with faint brownish spots and usually acquiring brownish nest stains during incubation. Both parents participate in nest construction, incubation, and feeding the nestlings (Seavy et al. 1998). The incubation periods at two nests in Guatemala were 31 and 32 days, and four nestlings fledged at an average of 38.5 days (Seavy et al. op cit.). In Argentina, the incubation period was 32 days at one nest, and the nestling period was 36 days (Di Giacomo 2005). more....

Conservation: Fairly common or common throughout most of its extensive range. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Plumbeous Kite. Pp. 118 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.
Brown, L., and D. Amadon. 1968. Hawks, eagles, and falcons of the world.
  Vol. 1. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Seavy, N.E., M.D. Schulze, and D.F. Whitacre. 1997. Diet and hunting
  behavior of the Plumbeous Kite. Wilson Bulletin 109:526-532.
Seavy, M.E., M.D. Schulze, D.F. Whitacre, and M.A. Vásquez. 1998. Breeding
  biology and behavior of the Plumbeous Kite. Wilson Bulletin 110:77-85.
Seavy, M.E., M.D. Schulze, D.F. Whitacre, and M.A. Vásquez. 2012.
  Plumbeous Kite. Pp. 82-92 in D.F. Whitacre (ed.), Neotropical birds of prey:
  biology and ecology of a forest raptor community. Cornell Univrsity Press,
  Ithaca, NY.
Skutch, A.F. 1967. A nesting of the Plumbeous Kite in Ecuador. Condor
Sutton, G.M. 1944. The kites of the genus Ictinia. Wilson Bulletin 56:3-8.

Sites of Interest:
Plumbeous Kite photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Azevedo, Marcos Antônio Guimarães
Cabanne, Gustavo Sebastian
Olivo Quiroga, Cristian E.
Shrum, Peggy
Tejeda-Tellez, Arianna G.

Last modified: 7/27/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 1 Jun. 2020

Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Copyright © 1999-2012 The Peregrine Fund. All Rights Reserved.