Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii)


French: Élanion perle German: Perlaar Spanish: Elanio enano

Gampsonyx Swainsonii


, 1825,

tableland of Bahia, Brazil


Disjunct N population (El Salvador to Nicaragua) reportedly indistinguishable from South American populations, but individual variation rather marked. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. s. leonae C. Chubb, 1918 – SE El Salvador, S Honduras#R, W Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama#R, and N & E Colombia through Venezuela and Trinidad to Guyana and Suriname, and S to NE Ecuador and Brazil N of R Amazon.
  • G. s. magnus C. Chubb, 1918 – W Ecuador and NW Peru.
  • G. s. swainsonii Vigors, 1825 – Brazil S of R Amazon S to E Peru, N & E Bolivia (in La Paz, Beni, Santa Cruz and Tarija#R), Paraguay and N Argentina.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–28 cm; male 94–120 g; wingspan 45–55 cm. Very small and falcon-like. Blackish above, mostly white below with black patch on side of breast and rusty... read more


    Mainly silent but occasionally gives a high-pitched “kitt-y, kitt-y, kitt-y”, or... read more


    Dry to arid regions, shrubby pasture, savanna, cerrado and open tropical woodland; occurs... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly small lizards (especially geckos), which constituted 90% of identified prey items in Trinidad; also large insects (e.g.... read more


    Season variable, perhaps related to rains. Flimsy twig nest built 5 m up at tip of horizontal branch; on Trinidad, nests c. 18–20 m... read more


    Apparently sedentary, but has responded to forest clearance by spreading into areas. Young birds... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Locally distributed and not generally common, but probably benefits from forest destruction, e.g. numerous in partly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bierregaard, R.O., Jr & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii). 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 24 February 2020).