Sunday, March 3, 2013

Snail Kite - Amazon, Brazil

A photograph of a Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) taken in the Amazon, Brazil
Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) - Amazon, Brazil

During our time on the Rio Negro we saw a number of birds of prey perched on trees by the water. Of these birds the Snail Kite was probably the least shy. We saw them on a number of occasions while out on the water and were able to approach without spooking them. The distinct hooked beak and the red eyes made this bird pretty easy to identify.

More photographs inside.
A photograph of a Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) taken in the Amazon, Brazil
Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) - Amazon, Brazil

This species measures in at around the 35 - 50cm with a wingspan of around 100 - 120 cm. The male is usually a blueish-grey in colour while the female has dark brown upper parts with a heavily streaked pale underparts. The birds in these photographs are most probably juveniles which resemble mature females but have a streaked crown.

A photograph of a Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) taken in the Amazon, Brazil
Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) - Amazon, Brazil

Fortunately this species has not been identified as threatened and the population in central America seems to be growing. The birds diet consists almost exclusively of apple snails. Apple snails were propagated throughout El Salvador in the early to mid eighties as food for fish stocks. This has resulted in the growth of the Snail Kite population in the area.

A photograph of a Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) taken in the Amazon, Brazil
Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) - Amazon, Brazil

These photographs were taken with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens combo. The shots were taken early in the morning or late in the evening. As I was in a bot during this time, I didn't use a tripod. I hand held the camera and pushed the ISO up to about 500 to compensate for the sub-optimal light.










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