Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Return of the swallow- tailed kites

I saw the first swallow-tailed kite of the year, today. (Click on the link if you're not familiar with them.) I reckon they are the most beautiful birds of prey on the planet. Once seen, not forgotten.

They're such graceful, acrobatic fliers, too, rarely flapping their wings as they wheel around in tight circles, controlling their flight by simply twisting their tails.

Prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, which, in 2005, took out so many of our trees and birds' nesting places, I would see as many as two dozen circling overhead. I'm not sure where they nest now, but I haven't seen those numbers since.

Until a few years ago, nobody was sure where they spent the winter. Eventually, they were tracked to the Brazilian/Paraguayan border, a journey of some 4,000 miles.

(The photo is from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is in the public domain.)

8 comments:

Floridagirl said...

I love the swallow-tailed kites as well! They a so beautiful and graceful in flight.

James Missier said...

What a beautiful bird - I don't think they come to my region in any case.

NanaK said...

We have had a pair return to my neighborhood each year that I haven't seen yet. I almost stopped my car in the middle of the street the first time I saw one of these flying overhead. They are beautiful.

Penny McCrea said...

I do hope you all clicked on the "two dozen link in the post; it's what I used to see before the '05 hurricanes.

Kimberly said...

I'm a bird fan, regardless. This one is definitly beautiful!

Penny McCrea said...

@Kimberly: Indeed!

Anonymous said...

I saw my first pair on the 15th they are the most beautiful, I call them the angel bird.
I have not seen as many in more recent years.
They are a few near the suwannee river.

Penny McCrea said...

I think you'll find them throughout most of Florida; I've seen them in Gainesville. They migrate up the GA and SC coasts and along parts of the Gulf Coast. At one time, they could be seen as far north as Minnesota, but apparently it's the usual habitat destruction that's stopped them from doing that now.