Monday, July 30, 2007

Go Fly a Kite

The plot thickens... Back in early June, a Mississippi Kite was reported at the Brass Ring Golf Course in Hocking County. Then, two birds. These first reports of multiple birds were somewhat enigmatic, although I eventually got the original discoverer, Rick Perkins, on the phone and he confirmed seeing two birds together early on.

Then, for a good month and a half, one bird was widely seen by nearly all who ventured to see it, but reports of the second bird were virtually non-existent and unconfirmed. During that period, I spoke with golf course personnel who are on the course for hours daily, and often at or near the spots that the kite frequented. They reported only seeing one bird, at least that they could be sure of, and by this time these folks were intimately familiar with Mississippi Kites.

In the past week or so, the second bird surfaced. I got a call from the course superintendent, excitedly reporting both birds together in the favored tree. A number of birders who have recently visited have also seen the two together.

So, what does this mean? That someone needs to find the nest, perhaps! It sounds as if an active nest may be nearby, and one of the adults was tied up with incubation while the other was out hunting and being observed. If they did nest, it must have been within the golf course, as there is good habitat there and thats where the kites seemed to spend the vast majority of their time.

Fortunately, the folks at the golf course have become quite interested in these birds, know what to look for, and should clue us in if they see nest/young.

For now, enjoy these wonderful photos taken by Michael Packer on a recent visit:

Kite in flight, by Michael Packer. You can see why some of the golf course workers initially thought it might be a Bald Eagle, albeit a tiny one :-)

Note the considerably shortened leading primary flight feather. Graceful and acrobatic in flight, Mississippi Kites often pick off flying dragonflies. Anyone who has tried to net big dragons knows how challenging that can be.

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