Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Grey-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis)


French: Bec-en-croc de Cayenne German: Cayenneweih Spanish: Milano cabecigrís

Falco cayanensis


, 1790,



In the past, sometimes known by alternative name of Odontriorchis palliatus. Until recently was considered to include L. forbesi (which see). Form monachus only marginally different from slightly smaller nominate, and sometimes considered undiagnosable#R. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. c. cayanensis (Latham, 1790) – S Mexico (S Veracruz and E Oaxaca) S to W Ecuador, Amazonia, the Guianas and Trinidad.
  • L. c. monachus (Vieillot, 1817) – C Brazil to E Bolivia, N Argentina and Paraguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    43–54 cm; male 415–553 g, female 416–643 g; wingspan 90–110 cm. Very similar to NE Brazil endemic L. forbesi, which latter differs in its... read more


    Only really vocal when breeding, vocalizing both in flight and from perch. Gives a trogon-like... read more


    Rainforest up to 2200 m, but mainly in lowlands below 1000 m, especially in vicinity of water... read more

    Food and feeding

    A broad diet, including many insects (ants, termites, beetles, orthopterans, caterpillars, katydids, grasshoppers), honeycomb, bees, ... read more


    Display flight involves rapid, fluttering, downward wingbeats (butterfly flight), but also engages in mutual soaring, chasing, talon... read more


    Apparently sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Rare to uncommon throughout extensive range, e.g. until recently just one record in the still well-forested SE Brazilian... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bierregaard, R.O., Jr & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Grey-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis). 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 on 27 February 2020).