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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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