Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mississippi Kites- young fledging, mass exodus near

For a week or two I have been hearing my neighborhood's nesting pair of Mississippi Kites getting especially vociferous, they way they seem to do when the time approaches for their nestling to fledge.  I have been eyeing the birds as the circle and dive about the neighborhood, looking for an especially tentative looking individual that might be the young bird.  Sure enough, it made its appearance this weekend- circling over the neighbor's house, fanning its tail to reveal the bands that are the easiest plumage mark for separating it from the (solid-black tailed) adults.

Mississippi Kites are generally most conspicuous in our area in August, presumably because the young are large enough to free the females from incubation duty, allowing them to roam the skies with their mates, visible to humans.   At the end of the month they will make what is perhaps the most startling exodus of any of our nesting birds. Within about a week, they go from being hard to miss while running any errand around town, to being essentially absent. After that, we won't see them until mid April next year.  In the mean time, they will be making their way southward around the Gulf.  In the process, they become concentrated by the Gulf shoreline and turn up in shocking numbers at the River of Raptors hawk watch near Veracruz, Mexico.


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