Cuban kite

The Cuban kite (Chondrohierax wilsonii) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, eagles and harriers. It is endemic to Cuba.

Cuban kite
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Chondrohierax
C. wilsonii
Binomial name
Chondrohierax wilsonii
(Cassin, 1847)

This species is classified as critically endangered by BirdLife International and the IUCN. The current population is estimated 50 to 249 mature birds. In the last 40 years the species has only been observed a handful of times with the latest published sighting in 2010 in Alejandro de Humboldt National Park.[1]

The Clements Checklist and the AOU consider it as subspecies of the hook-billed kite. A molecular phylogenetics analysis using mitochondrial DNA suggests that it warrants species status having diverged from the mainland lineage approximately 400,000 to 1.5 million years ago.[2]

Forest destruction and degradation is the leading cause of population decline, as well as the reduction in prey snail numbers and persecution by local farmers. Its apparently tame nature makes it an easy target for shooters.[3]


Cuban Kite is a little smaller than the Hook-billed Kite. Males have upper-parts gray, the tail barred with black; underparts evenly barred grayish and white. Females resemble the Grenada form of the Hook-billed Kite, but brown barrings on the underparts less rufescent; bill larger (also deeply hooked) and mostly yellowish.[4]


Cuban kite feeds on colored tree snails and slugs, which it finds in the forest undergrowth, for which its deeply hooked bill is thought to be adapted for.[3] Taxonomic uncertainties within the genus Chondrohierax stem from the high degree of variation in bill size and plumage coloration throughout the geographic range of the single recognized species, hook‐billed kite Chondrohierax uncinatus. These uncertainties impede conservation efforts as local populations have declined throughout much of its geographic range from the Neotropics in Central America to northern Argentina and Paraguay, including two island populations on Cuba and Grenada, and it is not known whether barriers to dispersal exist between any of these areas.[2]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Chondrohierax wilsonii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Jeff A.; Thorstrom, Russell; Mindell, David P. (2007). "Systematics and conservation of the hook-billed kite including the island taxa from Cuba and Grenada" (PDF). Animal Conservation. 10: 349–359. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2007.00118.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-16.
  3. ^ a b "Cuban Kite | Chondrohierax wilsonii". EDGE of Existence. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  4. ^ Bond, James (1999). A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 55. ISBN 0618002103.

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