Cuban Kite (Chondrohierax wilsonii)

Cuban Kite

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Chondrohierax wilsonii | [authority] Cassin, 1847 | [UK] Cuban Kite | [FR] Milan de Cuba | [DE] Kuba-Langschnabelweih | [ES] Elanio Piquiganchudo | [NL] Cubaanse Wouw


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Chondrohierax are medium-sized kites with long wings and tail. The bill is large, blunt, compressed, and very deeply hooked. It is specially adapted for dealing with large snails. In common with many kites, the feet are weak, and the claws slender, but sharp. The plumage is extremely variable with several phases in both adult and young. The genus is related to Leptodon and Aviceda, but is more specialised. It is widespread in tropical America, Cuba and Grenada. There are two species, but within that species there is probably more individual variation in colour and in size of bill than in any other species of diurnal raptor.

Physical charateristics

38-43 cm. Stocky kite with massive yellow bill. Male dark grey above, whitish barred grey and rufous below, grey tail with three black bars and pale tip. Female brown above, coarsely barred rufous below. Immature black above, white below extending onto hindneck. In all plumages distinctive oval wing shape and barred underwings.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


North America : East Cuba. Chondrohierax wilsonii was formerly fairly widespread on Cuba, but is now confined to a tiny area in the east of the island between Moa and Baracoa, and possibly other parts of Holguin and Guantanamo provinces. It is Cuba’s rarest raptor and is apparently on the verge of extinction.


It is now confined to montane gallery forest, where it feeds chiefly on tree snails Polymita and slugs in the understorey. Historically, it inhabited xerophytic vegetation and montane forest


No data

Feeding habits

This species is thought to feed mostly on snails.


This species has declined rapidly and now has an extremely small population, confined to a single area. There is a continuing decline in numbers and hence it qualifies as Critically Endangered.
The decline is mainly attributed to habitat destruction and alteration caused by logging and agricultural conversion. Farmers persecute the species because they (mistakenly) believe that it preys on poultry. Harvesting has apparently reduced numbers of tree snails, and thereby food availability. The species is suspected to be declining owing to the reduction of its prey base, destruction of habitat and lack of formal protection.
Cuban Kite status Critically Endangered


Sedentary in all of its range.

Distribution map

Cuban Kite distribution range map

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