Swallow-tailed kite

Elanoides forficatus
Swallow-tailed kite flying


This distinctive, black and white bird of prey winters in the lowlands of Brazil and returns to Florida each spring to nest. They can be seen, usually soaring overhead, throughout the state between March and August. Swallow-tailed kites feed mainly on flying insects, and also small vertebrates including snakes, lizards and frogs. In late summer, large gatherings of this spectacular raptor can be found.

The breeding range for the Swallow-tailed kite once reached as far north as Minnesota and included 21 states. Today, most of the population is restricted to Florida, with small numbers in six additional southeastern states.

Where can I view swallow-tailed kites?

Swallow-tailed kites can be seen soaring overhead almost anywhere in the vicinity of Lake Woodruff NWR from May - August.  Visitors are encouraged to look for them by walking or biking the dikes near the impoundments

Help Us!

Swallow-tailed kites are sensitive to disturbance, if you encounter them, do not chase, disturb, or otherwise harass swallow-tailed kites. It is illegal to disturb, harm, or attempt to disturb or harm wildlife on a National Wildlife Refuge unless by special permit (CFR 50, 27.51). Follow these photography tips to protect yourself and wildlife while attempting those great shots!

Learn More:

To learn more about the migratory patterns of swallow-tailed kite, visit the Avian Research and Conservation Institute.  

Would you like to help?  Submit your observation.


Facts About Swallow-tailed kite

Symbol of the Great Florida Birding Trail

Frequently eats while flying

Rarely flaps its wings while flying, but it almost continuously rotates its tail, often to nearly 90 degrees

Drinks by skimming the surface and collecting water in its beak