Take Flight with the Crossley ID Guide: Swallow-tailed Kite

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This gorgeous plate of the Swallow-tailed Kite from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors shows the bird from every angle.

Many agree that the Swallow-tailed Kite is the most graceful bird on the planet. Its flight is buoyant, maneuverable, elegant, floating…mesmerizing. The shape of the Swallow-tailed Kite is a fitting profile: long, curved, pointed wings and an extremely long, forked tail that flutters behind.

Swallow-tailed Kites feed on small prey such as dragonflies and lizards that they snatch from the tree canopy, and their small feet are evidence of this. They twist and turn in chase of their prey, and often eat on the wing.

They arrive back from their wintering grounds as early as late February and depart south again around August. Some overshoot in spring can be seen by lucky observers in the northeast.

Swallow-tailed Kites sometimes feed high in the sky in small groups but are more often not much above the treeline, and they have a sneaky habit of disappearing out of view way too quickly.

All ages are pure white underneath with black flight and tail feathers, but juveniles just out of the nest have rufous breasts that quickly turn white. They are gray on top with a black tail and black “shoulders.” 1st years are nearly identical to adults, but the tail is slightly shorter.

To see ALL the sample plates from The Crossley ID Guide, click here.