K…is for Kite – Swallow-tailed Kite that is!
This one took me a minute – what creature in nature starts with the letter “K” that I might have a recent picture of in my photo library? I’m thinking as I’m writing this “kangaroo” possibly but no picture in the library. Then I remembered last year we went to Forever Florida near Kissimmee; as we riding along one of the trails a Swallow-tailed Kite flew overhead! Not the best photo but I managed to capture it.
The lilting Swallow-tailed Kite has been called “the coolest bird on the planet.” With its deeply forked tail and bold black-and-white plumage, it is unmistakable in the summer skies above swamps of the Southeast. Flying with barely a wingbeat and maneuvering with twists of its incredible tail, it chases dragonflies or plucks frogs, lizards, snakes, and nestling birds from tree branches. After rearing its young in a treetop nest, the kite migrates to wintering grounds in South America.
Swallow-tailed Kites are large but slender and buoyant raptors. They have long, narrow, pointed wings, slim bodies, and a very long, deeply forked tail. The bill is small and sharply hooked.
Swallow-tailed Kites are a sharp contrast of bright-white head and underparts and gleaming black wings, back, and tail. From below, the wing linings are white and the flight feathers are black.
These birds are creatures of the air, spending most of their day aloft and rarely flapping their wings. They tend to circle fairly low over trees as they hunt for small animals in the branches. At times they soar very high in the sky, almost at the limits of vision. During migration they may form large flocks.
Look for Swallow-tailed Kites over swamps, marshes, and large rivers of the southeastern U.S., particularly in Florida. At the end of summer, all the Swallow-tailed Kites in the U.S. leave and migrate south to South America.
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Content from allaboutbirds.org