Maps show where to look for Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite. Photo by Randy Smith

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In On the Move, our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of year. We featured Swallow-tailed Kite, pictured above, in our April 2018 issue.

Swallow-tailed Kite

eBird Maps Track Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite eBird records from April 2007-2017 (left) and January 2007-2017.

A highly distinctive, beautiful, and graceful bird, Swallow-tailed Kite is adept at foraging for flying insects on the wing. Both sexes are strikingly black and white with a long forked tail; they are easily identified even at great distances by their unusual shape. In April, many individuals are on the move as they return to preferred breeding areas in swamps, marshes, and lowland forests, where they regularly reuse and refurbish stick nests. They breed primarily in Florida, though isolated breeding pairs occur from Texas to South Carolina. A large breeding population also occurs from southern Mexico to northern South America. By January, nearly all individuals have migrated south to wintering areas from Honduras to Brazil. Swallow-tailed Kite is gregarious and is often found in loose groups, including during the breeding season, when several pairs may nest in close proximity.

See eBird’s real-time distribution map for Swallow-tailed Kite.

eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. “On the Move” is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at

A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the April 2018 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe


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