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Kite Birds in Panama Canal

Male Snail Kite

Female Snail Kite

Female Snail Kite

Female Snail Kite

Kite birds make their home in the huge fresh water lake in the Panama Canal called “Lake Gatun”.   I believe that these two birds shown, are likely Snail Kites.   This lake is fed by the Chagras River.  The lake is a man-make body of water created to allow ships to transit the locks of the Panama Canal.  There are several small islands in this lake

that have tropical rain forests on them.  The Kites love to hunt for the large tropical snails on leafy plants in the lush rain forest.

The male is the charcoal black bird, while the hen is brown and rust-colored.  Some of the Kites are year around residents while some are Winter visitors or are simply stopping for a bit on their way to South America.  I took these pictures in the Panama Canal on October 30, 2013.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture.  Enjoy!

Female Snail Kite

Female Snail Kite

Male Snail Kite

Male Snail Kite

Comments on: "Kite Birds in Panama Canal" (8)

  1. my word! their beaks are incredibly long and sharp!

    • Hi Theresa, Yes they are! From what I have read online, these eat snails which may be pretty small and in and on bushes. Perhaps the long sharp bill helps grab the snails which would in addition to using their talons. Snail shells may also be harder than many other kinds of snail. Have a wonderful day today!

  2. Why are they called kites?

    • Hi Ginny, Great question. I did not know that answer so I looked at my 1935 Audubon Society book on the Hawks and saw the answer. Kites fly in such a way when hunting, that they can almost stall in flight. When seen from the ground at that moment, Kite birds resemble a toy kite in flight (I am summarizing and paraphrasing about it here). Hope this helps. Have an especially nice day!

  3. Beautiful birds… I’ve never heard of them.. Look at those long beaks! Wow…

    • Hi Betsy, These Kites are native to Central America and Caribbean island regions plus Northern S. America. They are relatives of birds such as the Mississippi Kite (which I did see twice in the Glade up in TN). Have a wonderful day!

  4. Wow, how cool! Awesome closeups! Have a great evening and week ahead!

  5. THey are cool! New to me!

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