The hook-billed kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus), is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, eagles, and harriers. It occurs in the Americas, including the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and tropical South America.
|Hook-billed kite at Peruíbe, São Paulo state, Brazil|
It is a mid-sized, slender raptor with an invariably striped belly and banded tail but there is probably more individual variation in color and in size of bill than in any other species of diurnal raptor. Birds from beneath can look blackish or gray (especially males) and brown or brick-red (females) variously. This renders species identification at times extremely difficult. The downcurved hook at the tip of the beak is apparent on perched and low-flying birds. Weight can range from 215 to 397 g (7.6 to 14.0 oz) and length is 38–51 cm (15–20 in).
Tree snails are this raptor's favorite prey but frogs, salamanders, small mammals and insects are also taken. When it finds a tree snail it holds it with its talon and uses its beak to pry open the shell. The nest, a flimsy platform of sticks, is built by both sexes. The hook-billed kite lays two to three buff-white eggs marked with red-brown. Incubation is by both sexes. Semialtricial young stay in the nest 35–45 days and are fed by both sexes. This raptor is often considered sluggish and retiring, preferring to perch inside leafy canopy when not flying.
The critically endangered Cuban kite, C. wilsonii, is considered by some authors to be a subspecies of the hook-billed kite.