[Mystery bird] Swallow-tailed Kite, also known by a bunch of other common names, such as the Fork-tailed Hawk, Swallow-tailed Hawk, Snake Hawk and Fish Hawk, Elanoides forficatus, photographed at Double Bayou Park, Chambers County, Anahuac, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 26 June 2010 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/400s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Why is this species’ tail shaped in this distinctive way?
The tail shape provides this species with tremendous in-flight maneuverability. Swallow-tailed Kites are a soaring species, rarely flapping its wings in flight. This species almost continuously rotates its tail, even as much as 90 degrees, to hold a particular heading, to make a sharp turn, or to make tight circles. This species feeds on flying insects and insects and lizards it plucks from treetops, which it often eats while “on the wing.” Unlike with barn swallows, there is no difference in tail length between sexes.