Double-Toothed Kite: the Ultimate Guide

Meta: In this article, we’re going to talk about a bird that you can see travelling all around South America – The Double Toothed Kite. This creature is a majestic-looking kite with a beautiful plumage.

We’re going to have a deep dive into the behavioral profile of this bird, including mating habits, feeding, migration and lifespan.

If you have ever traveled through South America and looked up into the dense undergrowth, you might have noticed a bird with a grey head and a distinctive chestnut plumage on the belly.

Well, could well be the double-toothed kite, one of this country’s most marvelous and well-adapted birds.

 This bird can be found all over South and Central America, whether it is El Salvador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Belize, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and many, many other places.

This bird is thriving across the country, living off a rich diet of insects, mammals and small reptiles.

This kite looks a lot like some other kites that you might find in this area of the world. It has grey plumage on the head and back, with a splash of chestnut on the wings and a beige and chestnut-colored feathering on the belly.

This bird is perfectly adapted for blending into the wooded background where it lives.

But where can you find a double-toothed kite? What are its mating patterns? Are they hostile to human beings? How have they adapted to hunt and kill food in the way that they do? How often do they breed and at what time of year? What do they eat?

How long do these birds live?

Well, if you are hankering for some information on one of our favorite birds, then we would suggest that you read on.

We have a complete behavioral and physical profile on this creature which, once you’ve finished, will leave you a veritable expert in the study of the double-toothed kite.


This bird is largely grey in color, with the wings being described as having a distinctive slate color. This bird has the same pattern as a lot of other kites from around the world. It has a solid grey head that dissolves into a chestnut color around the collar.

It has a white belly that is marked with chestnut bars.

This raptor is a lot smaller than other breeds, measuring in at around 13 – 15 inches and weighing anywhere between 5.7 and 8.2 ounces. The female is larger than the males, which is common for a bird of prey.

One of the things that makes this bird easy to spot is the white rump patch on its tail. This is one of the easiest methods of spotting one of these birds.

Male Vs Female

The female is often larger than the male, sometimes measuring up to double in size. The female will have darker wings than the male, with her being slightly redder too.

The underparts are barred with dark grey as opposed to the chestnut color that identifies the male.

Are They Aggressive?

These birds are certainly not that aggressive to humans. They will generally try to flee the nest if they feel attacked, rather than defend themselves against larger predators.

However, it is not advisable that you try and get into a double-toothed kite’s nest, even if it is simply for the purposes of observation.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

This bird has developed amazing eyesight so that it can see for quite long distances. This makes it great for hunting prey. It also has a shorter wingspan, which helps it to navigate through the trees, which can often be dense and clustered together.

This creature has also developed very heavy and muscular claws that will allow you to spear through prey and carry them for long distances. It also has a razor-sharp beak that it will use to tear into flesh, separating it from the bone for a quick and effective kill.

Breeding/Reproduction Behaviour

This bird will often start breeding in the springtime, building a nest and hatching chicks during the months of April through until July. These creatures often mate for life, forming pair bonds with the same mate year after year.

This creature will often lay a clutch of around 2 eggs which are pale blue and white in color. The female will often incubate the eggs for around 35 days, after which point the fledglings will hatch.

The juvenile birds will often take around 1 month to become fully developed and will attempt to leave the nest. Sometimes the young birds will stick around the nest, even when they have developed the ability to hunt and fend for themselves.

Their Calls/Sounds

This bird often gives out a very high-pitched singsong sort of cry, which helps them attract a mate and scare off potential predators. This bird is often the most vocal during the mating season, using its call to lure in a partner.

What Do They Eat (Diet)

This bird is very opportunistic when it comes to prey. It will often swoop in and scare monkeys in order to get the lizards and insects that these mammals have flushed out.

In a study conducted on this animal’s dietary habits, it was shown that this bird eats largely reptiles and insects that it can find on the forest floor.

It will often swoop in on these creatures from a hunting perch that it establishes near its nest.

Where Do They Live (Habitat)

This animal can be found in forest areas in Central America. It likes to live in subtropical zones where there is plenty of heat and humidity. It likes to house itself in wet and tropical mid-lowland areas too.

What Are Their Nesting Habits

This creature will often construct a saucer-shaped nest that usually sits in the fork of a tree. This will be built by both the male and the female.

The male will often go hunting for food while the female sits and incubates the eggs over a period of 6 weeks.

How Long Do They Live (Lifespan)

This bird, like a lot of other kites, will probably live on an average of 11 years. The female has been recorded as living slightly longer than the male.

This is a great hunting bird and people who have kept a kite in captivity have reported them living almost double their natural lifespan.

What Predators Do They Have

This kite does not really have any predators as it is a large bird that is able to defend itself very well. Sometimes ambler birds will rush a double-toothed kite’s nest in order to get at their eggs.

The biggest threat to this kite is probably human beings, who often encroach upon their territory to demolish habitats and build houses. Kites will often not attack human beings, preferring to hide or flee if they are approached.

What Are Their Feathers Like

This bird has a largely grey plumage, with the backs of the wings being a slate color and the head being a slightly lighter grey color.

The feathers on the wings are shorter than a lot of other birds of prey, although this is to help them fit into most compact environments.

The feathers on the tail are longer, with the length of the tail itself being over double the length of the male’s body. The feathers on the belly are white with a barred pattern.

Their feathering really helps them to blend in with the forest canopy in which they live.

What Does Their Poop Look Like

This bird’s poop is brown and pellet-like, which is a result of their diet. You can find their poop littering the forest floor underneath their nests. Some observers have reported that this bird has a strong ammonia scent to their poop.

If you ever wanted to track the whereabouts of this bird in the wild, then trying to find their droppings would be a good place to start.

Do They Migrate

Because this bird is native to a relatively warm climate, it does not tend to migrate that far in the winter.

This creature will usually stay within the confines of the area that they were born. However, some of these birds increase their hunting range to other regions in South and Central America if food starts to become scarce.

Conservation Status

This bird is thriving across South America, so its conservation status is regarded as being that of least concern. The most common threat to this creature’s numbers is man-made factors, such as housing, motorways and the development of cities.

This creature has been observed as going towards urban areas, often scavenging for lizards that are found eating human garbage. The other reason for this species having fewer numbers is deforestation.

Fun Facts

  • This creature is called the Double-Tooth because of the tooth-like formations that you can see on its upper mandibles.
  • This creature hunts from a special perch that it constructs near the nest. The male will often be responsible for getting the foot while the female hatches the eggs.