Snail Kites are a fascinating raptor and a lesson in the adaptation and specialization that occurs in species. They are found in tropical marshlands and lake shores, and theyfeed almost exclusively on Apple Snails. They have been seen feeding on crayfish in areas where the population of Apple Snails has depleted, but their talons are too weak to carry larger prey.
Snail Kites are a species of least concern throughout most of their range, which covers much of Central and South America. In Florida, however, Snail Kites are now an endangered species with less than 400 breeding pairs in the state. Since Snail Kites are so specialized to depend basically on one species of snail for their food supply, their populations in Florida is largely dependent on marshy habitats that support Apple Snails. These habitats have been significantly reduced in size; in fact, only one third of Florida’s freshwater wetlands that were in Florida when it became a sate remain today. Two-thirds have been filled or drained, and the highly-specialized species like Snail Kites are the hardest hit by these actions.