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Slender-billed Kite
Helicolestes hamatus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Rostrhamus hamatus.

Helicolestes hamatus
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Distribution: Neotropical.  Eastern PANAMA (Darién) locally east through COLOMBIA (Chocó, Antioquia, Amazonas) to extreme northeastern ECUADOR to western, northern, and southeastern VENEZUELA (Apure, Monagas, Bolívar) and the GUIANAS, south through Amazonian BRAZIL to northern BOLIVIA (Beni) and eastern PERU. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Placed in the genus Rostrhamus by most authorities since this recommendation was made by Amadon (1964). However, Wetmore (1965) and Thiollay (1994) recommended returning this species to a monotypic genus because of differences in flight style, vocalizations, courtship displays, and habitat between this species and the superficially similar Snail Kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis. The latter treatment was recently endorsed by the American Ornithologists' Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (Banks et al. 2008) and the AOU's South American Classification Committee (Remsen et al. 2008).

Movements: Probably somewhat nomadic in response to changing water conditions, but regarded as non-migratory by Bildstein (2004).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and is more forest-inhabiting than the related Snail Kite, usually frequenting swamps, shallow lagoons, freshwater marshes, drying ponds, and várzea forest. In the Cocha Cashu area of Manu National Park in Peru, it hunts snails in dense shrubby areas along the edges of marshes (Robinson 1994). Soars often, but briefly, sometimes in small groups.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on freshwater snails (Pomacea) spp., but also on crabs. Unlike Snail Kites, this species invariably forages from perches (Sick 1993), often within the forest, and several individuals may be seen hunting in the same area. more....

Breeding: The nest is a small platform of twigs placed high in a tree in flooded forest. Haverschmidt (1959) found a nest on a large branch of a hugh cotton-tree grolwing in a coffee plantation. Clutch size is 2 eggs, which are white with heavy smudges of brown and cinnamon.

Conservation: Generally uncommon and local in most portions of its range, but poorly studied. Presumably vulnerable to any factor that affects its specialized food supply. Further study may reveal that this is a "species of concern" in some portions of its range. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International.

Important References: 
Beissinger, S.R., B.T. Thomas, and S.D. Strahl. 1988. Vocalizations, food
  habits, and nesting biology of the Slender-billed Kite with comparisons to
  the Snail Kite. Wilson Bulletin 100:604-616.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Slender-billed 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.
Haverschmidt, F. 1959. Notes on Helicolestes hamatus in Surinam. Auk
Sick, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil: a natural history. Princeton University
  Press, Princeton, NJ.
Voous, K.H. 1969. Predation potential in birds of prey from Surinam. Ardea

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

Last modified: 4/16/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Slender-billed Kite Helicolestes hamatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 27 Jan. 2022

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