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Double-toothed Kite - BirdForum Opus

Adult, nominate H. b. bidentatus
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Manu Lodge canopy tower, adjacent to Río Madre de Dios, Madre de Dios Department, Peru, 12 September 2018
Harpagus bidentatus


34cm. (13¼ in.)

  • Grey head
  • White throat which has a dark central stripe (except in darkest individuals where throat is dark)
  • Rufous breast band
  • Lower breast barred
  • Dark tail, tipped white and with 3 whitish bands
  • Red iris (in the southern and south-eastern part of its range, some birds have yellow iris!)
  • Yellow legs
  • Two horny teeth on the cutting edges of the upper mandible

Similar Species

Roadside Hawk has yellow eyes and lack the dark central throat stripe

Adult, subspecies H. b. fasciatus
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Chan Chich Lodge, Orange Walk District, Belize, 2 February 2011


Central and South America.

Breeds in Guerrero, Veracruz and Oaxaca in southern Mexico and through Central America from Guatemala to Panama. In South America breeds from Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad south to Peru, Bolivia and southern Brazil.




There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • H. b. fasciatus: Underparts more heavily barred
  • H. b. bidentatus: Underparts less barred.
Photo © by Paul Kingsnorth
Mindo, Ecuador, 9 August 2009


Lowland rainforest, forest edge and secondary-growth woodland.



The nest is a shallow cup of twigs placed high in the fork of a tree, usually at the forest edge. Clutch size is 1-2 eggs, which are white with brown markings. The female conducts most of the nest building, all of the incubation duties, and brooding and most of the feeding of the young. The male does most of the hunting and provides the majority of prey to the female. Incubation is usually 42-45 days with the nestling period from 27-37 days. The young are dependent upon the parents for at least two months, sometimes longer


Feeds mostly on lizards and insects (including butterflies) and rarely on birds, nestling birds, bats, snakes, and rats. In some parts of its range it follows troops of monkeys catching prey they flush.


Usually silent except during the nesting season which it gives a series of high calls like some flycatchers: tsip-tsip-tsip.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdforum thread discussing this species
  3. Arthur Grosset
  4. Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Marks, J.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52973 on 31 December 2018).
  5. Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/dotkit1
  6. Global Raptor Information Network. 2018. Species account: Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 31 Dec. 2018

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