Tuesday, December 17, 2013

White-tailed Kite

White-tailed Kite
 The white-tailed kite is a medium sized raptor that is found along the west coast of the United States, southern Florida, Mexico, Central and South America. They were at one time, grouped together with the European black-winged kite as a single species called the black-shouldered kite. However because of differences in size and behavior the species was divided into the white-tailed kite, in the Americas, The black-winged kite, in Europe and Africa, and the black-shouldered kite, in Australia.
White-tailed Kite
The first white-tailed kites that we spotted, and photographed, where at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve near Monterey Bay in California. White-tailed kites were almost extricated from California by 1940 due to hunting and egg collecting. Preservation laws, like the Migratory Bird Act, gave protection to native species of birds and their eggs. This includes the white-tailed kite which, I am happy to say, are now common again in many parts of California. These first two pictures where taken in southern Texas where white-tailed kites can also be found.  
White-tailed Kite
Their preferred habitat is open country, such as grass savannas, marshes, desert grasslands and farm fields, where they hunt primarily small rodents. In 2012 while I was out photographing at Crex Meadows in Wisconsin I was surprised to spot a perched white-tailed kite. Now Crex meadows is perfect habitat for white-tailed kites, however it is way out of their normal range. This was only the third time on record that a white-tailed kite had been observed in Wisconsin. Now the winter of 2011 -2012 was unseasonably warm and lacking in snow which might explain why this bird was in Wisconsin. The have been known to venture far from their range and have been spotted as far away as New England. It was still exciting though and people came from all around to get a glimpse, especially since the last sighting in Wisconsin was over 10 years before.


9 comments:

Andrea said...

What a handsome bird and though I am a raptor person, I have never seen one even when in Florida or California. Maybe I just didn't know what to look for. But, now, thanks to you, I will know and will look because they are worth even the slightest glimps.

Andrea @ From The Sol

HansHB said...

Awesome photos!
Well done!

Roger Owen Green said...

WISE-looking creature!

ROG, ABCW

The happy wanderer. said...

They look very similar to our Black-shouldered Kites in Australia - and have those beautiful red eyes as adults!

Gordon said...

What a beautiful bird, and well photographed.
All the best Gordon.

Dave said...

Simply stunning!

Margaret Adamson said...

handsome bird, great shots.

Lady In Read said...

will look out for them.. i love the photos and show them to my budding ornithologist (my 11 year old!)

Kate said...

Your photo, as usual is exemplary! Kate, ABC team