kite, in zoology, common name for a bird of the family Accipitridae, which also includes the hawk. Kites are found near water and marshes in warm parts of the world. They prey chiefly on reptiles, frogs, and insects. The swallow-tailed, white-tailed, and Mississippi kites are found in the Gulf states and in Central and South America. The snail kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis, feeds exclusively on a large freshwater snail. The common kite of England, now rare, was once a scavenger in the streets of London. Kites are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Accipitriformes, family Accipitridae.
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