Wednesday, August 14, 2013

late Mississippi Kite nest (surprise)

This morning I was standing in the front yard watching the neighborhood Mississippi Kite family hang out in the tree tops in the early morning.  The young of the year are snatching bugs (presumably cicadas) in the air on their own.  Their tails are grown in except for the outermost feathers (half length).  On schedule for departure around month's end.

I noticed a dark blob 45 feet up in a nearby Water Oak, and trained my binoculars on it thinking it might be another perched raptor of some sort.  It was only a gash in the limb- but twenty feet behind it in the same tree, serendipitously in the same field of view in my field glasses, was an adult Mississippi Kite on the edge of a nest, feeding a small downy nestling!  This is only five houses down from where the other kite family is hanging out.

The prey item was something much larger than a cicada- I counted 40 tear-and-feed movements by the adult to the ravenous nestling before tiring of counting.  A quick glimpse of an apparent anuran hind leg makes me fairly sure it was a frog or toad.

It seems clear that this nestling will not be mature enough to depart with the rest of its kin around the end of the month.  It will be interesting to follow its progress.  I suspect this is a re-nesting by the pair that appears to have abandoned a nest in the sycamore behind my house earlier in the summer.


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