Snail Kite captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5 w/Z1.4x
The Snail Kite gives away in its name what it eats, snails. This highly specialized raptor eats just one thing, freshwater apple snails of Florida’s Central wetlands. It can snatch from the water and pop a snail out of its shell faster than a French Chef! Those talons & bill give it the ability to grasp the snail with great efficiency. The Snail Kite’s problem causing it to crash to just 64 individuals in the 80s is the loss of habitat and its food source. Then in 2004 a very destructive and evasive island apple snail came in. Bad for the environment, the island apple snail, the size of a tennis ball is prolific and has replaced the freshwater apple snail, the size of a ping pong ball. You might think that for a highly specialized predator like the Snail Kite this would be the last nail in its coffin. But the Snail Kite evolved in the matter of a decade with longer, stronger talons and longer mandible. So in the short term, the kite found a sudo solution for its own problem. Or did it? I guess only time will tell but in the meantime watching this mater of the wetlands is a joy as it uses its tools of specialization that evolved.