Snail Kite
Rostrhamus sociabilis

The Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) is a considered an endangered species in the United States. Within the U.S. the species is mostly restricted to Florida (where there are thought to be about 500 pairs resident), but there are a handful of Texas records as well, probably of Mexican birds. Snail Kites in Florida feed almost exclusively on two species of Apple Snails, one native and one introduced. The shots on this page were all taken in February, 2007, at Lake Tohopekaliga, Osceola Co., Florida, with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II and EF 500mm F/4 L IS lens. None of these shots would have been possible without the help of Jim Neiger. Jim, who is a suburb bird photographer, lives on lake Tohopekaliga and is available to take out bird photographers on his pontoon boat. With a little luck and decent weather the Snail Kite views Jim can offer are unbeatable. Jim's website will provide details if you are interested. The male shown here was perched near a nest site. He called to the female which left the nest (see below), then the male went to the nest.

The female in the next two shots has just left the nest when the male arrived to take his turn.
The next three shots show the same female as above as she perched about 200 feet away from the nest. She was totally oblivious to our presence in a nearby boat. The third shot at right is rather graphic and more than one person has asked me why I would want a shot of a female kite defecating. I'm not sure I have a good answer for that, but for some reason I like the image and it certainly does show a part of the daily activity of the bird! So, like it or not...here it is!
This female has broken off a twig and is returning to the nest with it.
The next two shots show the male perched as the female takes her turn at the nest.
This is the same male Snail Kite as above, but early on a different morning just after a heavy fog has lifted. The bird was quite wet from the fog and was perched with its wings held out in an effort to dry them.
After drying its wings, the kite broke off a twig and returned to the nest with his prize.
The next four shots show another female Snail Kite from a mile or so away from the above birds. This one is slighty darker. There are two shots of this female in flight and two shots showing her perched.
Finally, the last shot from 2007 shows another male in flight.