Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mississippi Kites

This morning about 10:30, it was already hot and humid when I headed out for a late walk. The sun was high, the sky a cloudless, hazy blue, and cicadas were buzzing loudly. When I saw three dark soaring birds in the distance, I expected them to be vultures, but then I saw their long slender wings, held thin and flat, longish tails, and white heads that caught the sunlight even when they were still quite high – Mississippi Kites.

One disappeared into the distance, but the other two circled lower, and stayed over our neighborhood for about 20 minutes, swooping down almost to treetop level. Both were males, with white, rounded heads and white on the inner, back part of their wings. Their flight was dramatic, from high to low and then high again, three or four times pulling their wings in and diving toward the ground, then soaring back up again. I watched them until they circled up very high and drifted away to the southwest.

As if this wasn’t reward enough for coming out in the hot sun, as I was watching the Kites, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew across the road directly in front of me, looking in my binoculars as if it were only two or three feet away – a fast but vivid image.


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