If you have never seen a Mississippi Kite flying you have missed their graceful and acrobatic dives and other aerial maneuvers. The Audubon Birds webpage describes them as follows:
- A small bird of prey with narrow pointed wings. Adult gray, paler below and on head; tail and outer flight feathers in wings blackish, inner flight feathers whitish. Young bird streaked below, with banded tail.
I think they have pretty faces. They act like they are more inquisitive than frightened by people as are many birds of prey. When I took the photo above I felt as if this kite was looking to figure out what in the world I was doing.
As can be seen on the range map from Cornell Lab of Ornithology this species is mostly seen in the deep south with sections along the Mississippi River (aha, that does relate to their name) north to the border of Missouri and Iowa and into Great Plains. In Colorado they are found in towns from the Kansas border west to Pueblo with a recent expansion into Colorado Springs.
The National Geographic webpage on this species describes them as ” A buoyant flier, it soars on flat wings, often high up in the air on thermals, catching and eating insects on the wing.” Though one would think they are such a large bird to eat insects, that indeed is their diet especially grasshoppers and dragonflies.
As I photographed this Mississippi Kite, it just had to scratch an itch–