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Chelictinia riocourii

Chelictinia riocourii (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Ordo: Accipitriformes

Familia: Accipitridae
Subfamilia: Elaninae
Genus: Chelictinia
Species: Chelictinia riocourii

Chelictinia riocourii (Vieillot, 1822)

La Galerie des Oiseaux du cabinet d'histoire naturelle du jardin du roi. 1 p. 43 pl.16

Vernacular names
čeština: Luněc vidloocasý
English: African Swallow-tailed Kite
español: Elanio golondrina
magyar: Ollósfarkú kánya

The scissor-tailed kite (Chelictinia riocourii), also known as African swallow-tailed kite or fork-tailed kite, is a bird of prey in the monotypic genus Chelictinia in the family Accipitridae.[2] It is widespread in the northern tropics of Africa.

Taxonomy and systematics

The species was illustrated in 1821 for a work by Coenraad Temminck, and described in 1822 by Louis Vieillot. It had been grouped with the Elanus kites or with the larger American swallow-tailed kite; in 1843 René Lesson assigned it to a separate genus, Chelictinia.[3]

The genus name Chelictinia is possibly derived from Greek χελιδών or χελιδονι (chelidon), the swallow,[4] with ικτινοσ (iktinos), the kite. The specific epithet riocourii honours the Count Rioucour, Antoine François du Bois "first president in the Royal Court of Nancy, and possessor of a beautiful collection of birds".[3][5] However, some sources refer to his son, Antoine Nicolas François, who was a contemporary of Vieillot.,[6][7]

The scissor-tailed kite is a small, slim grey and white kite with a relatively weak bill, a broad head, long pointed wings and a deeply forked tail. The adults are generally pale grey above and white below, with a white forehead and a black patch around the eyes. In flight the dark greyish flight feathers contrast with the inner underwing edges, there is also an obvious black bar across the carpal. Juveniles are darker on the back with rufous edges to the feathers and creamier below. It has a distinctive almost tern like flight and frequently hovers into the wind like a kestrel. The red eyes of the adult are also a distinctive feature.[8]
Distribution and habitat

The species inhabits the arid savannah of the Sahel region of Africa, occurring mainly in a band between 8° and 15° N that stretches from Senegal on the west coast to Sudan in the east. There are also populations breeding in Ethiopia and Kenya.[9]"

It is found in many countries, including: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and is also found in Yemen.[9]
Behaviour and ecology

When breeding the scissor-tailed kite feeds mainly on skinks and other lizards, as well as small snakes, rodents and arthropods. Usually hunts on the wing, occasionally pursuing insects flushed by grass fires. When termites emerge or locusts swarm, there may be gatherings of scissor-tailed kites. Loose flocks have been known to associate with cattle, flying immediately overhead and hawking any insects that they flush.[8]

They breed in loose colonies of up to 20 pairs, although will do so as single pairs, mainly on May to August but breeds in December to February in the west and March- June or August in Kenya. A small stick nest is built an acacia or thorny bush at 2-8m from the ground. The nest is often sited close to the nest of a large raptor such as a secretary bird or a brown snake eagle, occasionally close to buildings.[8]

The species is vulnerable to degradation of the habitat and pesticides. However, populations seem to be locally common in spite of decline in some parts of the range.[1]

BirdLife International (2021). "Chelictinia riocourii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021: e.T22695042A198901327. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-3.RLTS.T22695042A198901327.en. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
"ITIS Report: Chelictinia". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
Temminck, C. J. (Coenraad Jacob) (1824). "Milan Riocour". Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux, vol. 1. "M. Vieillot a dédié cette espèce à M. le comte de Riocour, premier président en la Cour royale de Nanci, et possesseur d'une belle collection d'oiseaux."
Thompson, D'Arcy Wentworth (1895). "Χελιδών". A Glossary of Greek Birds. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 186.
"Antoine François du Boys de Riocour". Geneanet. Retrieved 27 April 2016. "Conseiller d'Etat du roi de Pologne et 1er président de la Chambre des comptes de Lorraine" The surname du Boys is also written as du Bois or Dubois.
Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 336. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
Lesson, René Primevère (12 January 1843). "Index Ornithologique par Lesson". L'Echo du Monde Savant. Year 10, no. 3, column 60–63.
Ferguson-Lees, James; Christie, David A. (2001). Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm. p. 449. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1.
BirdLife International. "Species factsheet: Chelictinia riocourii".

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