Mississippi Kite

One of the highlights of my recent visit to Kansas was the opportunity to see Mississippi Kites. This raptor is common in towns, primarily because that’s where all the trees are. They feed on large insects, such as cicadas and dragonflies, and spend much of their time in the air, making them nearly impossible to photograph with a point-and-shoot camera.

ms kite
This juvenile spent much of the day in a tree by the house where I was staying. Young kites have an attractive pattern, with streaked breast, scaly upperparts, and banded tail, but the adults are a stunning pearly gray. You’ll just have to trust me on that.

ms kite calling
When hungry (all the time), the young kites make their long piercing PEE-PEEeeeeeee calls.

ms kite juv and adult
Eventually, a parent comes by to drop off a large insect and then quickly takes off again to continue hunting.

ms kite cleaning bill
After downing the insect, the young kite wipes her bill on the limb and waits for her next mouthful to be delivered.

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