Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, the white-tailed kite was common in many parts of California. However, in the first third of the 1900s, the population declined dramatically because of shooting, egg collecting and habitat changes. (5). Between the 1940s and 1970s, the white-tailed kite, once on the brink of extinction, began to recover.
Currently kites can be found in most lowlands of California north of the southeastern deserts and west of the Sierra Nevada, most commonly in the Central Valley and along the coast (3). The recovery of the white-tailed kite may also be attributed to a larger number of rodents resulting from some of the increased agricultural activity in California (6).
Despite having been given fully protected status in 1957, there is still concern about the species. Since the 1980s and 1990s, kite populations in some areas have decreased because of loss of prey and nesting habitat and possible increased disturbance (3). The largest numbers of White-tailed Kite are found in California, but they breed in south Texas, and some breeding pairs have been recorded in Oregon, southwest Washington, south Florida, parts of Mexico, both coasts of Guatemala, coastal El Salvador and Honduras, the lowlands of Costa Rica, and parts of the Pacific and Caribbean slopes of Panama (3). Some sightings have been recorded in Oklahoma, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and east to New York and Massachusetts (3).