Snail Kites by JT Norton are found in the wetlands of central and southern Florida. (for USA distribution) They feed almost exclusively on apple snails, and this diet restricts them to marshy areas along the shores and islands of major lakes where their prey lives. They are birds of prey but are picky eaters and prefer these freshwater snails.
They have been on the endangered species list since 1967.
The principal threat to the Snail Kite is the loss or degradation of wetlands in central and south Florida. Nearly half of the Everglades have been drained for agriculture and urban development. Everglades National Park preserves only about one-fifth of the original extent of the Everglades. The present-day system of canals, levees, and water-control structures has disrupted the volume, timing, direction, and velocity of freshwater flow. The natural sheet-flow pattern under which the Everglades evolved over the last 5,000 years no longer exists. The loss of freshwater to seepage, flood-control releases to tidal waters, and extraction for irrigation and urban water supply has led to salt-water intrusion in some places. Regulation of water stages in lakes and canals is particularly important to maintain the balance of vegetative communities required to sustain Snail Kit