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June 13, 2021

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Return of Bird of the Week: Snail Kite

Female Snail Kite, Peruvian Amazon Basin

Non-birders are always surprised to learn there is a large raptor whose primary prey is . . . snails. It somehow doesn’t fit the image of a raptor: a fast-flying, fierce predator that subsists primarily on famously slow-moving mollusks. But that long, hooked upper mandible has evolved to hook the snail out of its shell. Voila! Escargot! Snail Kites are also a bit unusual in that they are sexually dimorphic. Females have a dark brown back and a heavily streaked chest, brown on white, with lots of white on the head. Males look very different. The backlighting in the photo…