The Snail Kite is a bird of prey with a very particular appetite: it feeds almost exclusively on apple snails, a freshwater mollusk that occurs in Central and South Florida wetlands including the Everglades. The bird’s curved beak is slightly off-center to allow it to easily extract the snail from its spiraled shell. The sight of these hunters hovering over the Everglades’ sawgrass is a mainstay of our Florida heritage.
Today the Snail Kite is in trouble: it is listed by both the State of Florida and the federal government as an endangered species. Much of its habitat has been drained, other parts inundated to depths that suit neither snails nor their namesake kites. Water quality has declined and with it, Everglade Snail Kite populations have as well.
How Audubon is Helping
- Everglades Restoration: The heart of Everglade Snail Kite habitat in Florida is the Everglades. By restoring the river of grass, we will ensure there will always be places for kites to feed, nest and raise their young.
- Lake Okeechobee Recovery: Once a critical refuge for Everglade Snail Kite nesting, the health of Lake Okeechobee has declined so far that in 2005, kites did not nest successfully anywhere on the lake. Lake Okeechobee is critical to Everglades health and it is critical to the Everglade Snail Kite’s survival in its own right.
- Audubon Center for Birds of Prey: True dedication is making a snail milkshake and feeding it to an injured kite! At the Center for Birds of Prey, we know that every Everglade Snail Kite is critical to the population of this endangered species. We go to great lengths to rehabilitate injured Everglade Snail Kites and return them to the wild, even feeding these picky eaters their favorite molluscan milkshake!