Wow! Without a doubt, the highlight of the 2007 breeding season in Ohio was the discovery of a pair of Mississippi Kites nesting at the Brass Ring Golf Course in Hocking County. First discovered back in June by Rick Perkins, a skilled birder who just happened to be there on a golf outing, the kites have become avian celebrities and many birders have come to visit.
You can make out the insect in the adult's bill, which is probably a Swamp Cicada or some other large species of cicada. We were able to see the prey well enough through the scope to determine that nearly all of the insects that were brought to Junior were cicadas. It was interesting to watch the adult as it hunted low over the forest canopy. It apparently trolls the tree tops waiting for a cicada to fly out, and then pounces. Quite a feat, as cicadas often fly like speeding bullets in direct lines.
Here's a closer view of the adult with an insect. Not sure this one is a cicada. Whatever it is, Junior scarfed it up rapidly like everything else given to him. For one period of about an hour, he sat in the hickory and had twelve meals brought to him. As the adult neared the tree, it would quite deftly transfer the insect from talon to bill, then quickly hand it off to Junior and get out of there, the transfer normally lasting only a few seconds.A good look at Junior, holding a cicada. He/she is quite striking, with rich chestnut brown striping below and an intricate pattern of white feather edging above. Its prominently banded tail can also be seen here.
I want to thank Rick Perkins for finding the bird and making us all aware of it. I'm especially grateful to Chad Galloway for taking an interest in the kites, and playing a key role in enabling us to document the successful nesting. This is the first nesting record for Mississippi Kite in Ohio and as far as I know, the northernmost nesting record anywhere to date. Lets hope they return next year. We'll go back in in December after the leaves have fallen, and see if we can't find the nest. We have a strong idea as to the locale, but dense leaf cover has kept it hidden from us so far.