Ulysses, KS

mourning doveWe were visiting family in Ulysses, KS, the past week. The town is swarming with doves. This Mourning Dove was sitting on a nest over my mother-in-law’s driveway.

mourning dove nestlingsThis nest with two young Mourning Doves was about 20 feet away from the nest pictured above.

eurasian collared 1Eurasian Collared-Doves are now much more common than Mourning Doves in town.

kitingAfter the two species of doves, the most conspicuous birds in Ulysses are Mississippi Kites. They are constantly flying over town, hunting dragonflies and cicadas.

miss. kite 2 Here is a rare look at a Mississippi Kite sitting still in the open.

red-headed 1It has been a good summer for Red-headed Woodpeckers. I saw several families with young (note the young bird below and to the right of the adult above).

red-headed 2This is surely the most beautiful woodpecker in North America.

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.