Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First Faraway, Then Close-up

It had been many years since Roger and I saw a White-tailed Kite. They are such memorable little raptors. We were so surprised to see one again, and we got to see them three days in a row. On the first sighting, I did not have the camera. The bird was hovering and hunting so close to where we were walking, it would have made an incredible shot--trust me on that! The second time it was far, far off in the distance in its standard hunting position.
It was really much too far for a good shot, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. The Cornell Birding website describes the White-tailed Kite hunting behavior this way:
While hunting, the White-tailed Kite characteristically hovers up to 80 feet off the ground and then drops straight down onto prey items. This ability to hold a stationary position in midair without flapping is accomplished by facing into the wind, and is so characteristic of these birds that it has come to be called kiting.
The next day, we got a much better and closer view of another White-tailed Kite while it preened and looked around from the top of a tree.
The White-tailed Kite has a very interesting range. I made a copy of the Cornell website range map to post here.
While it does say that it is a year-round bird here, it also says that, "Although some populations fluctuate regularly in size, it is unknown whether the White-tailed Kite is migratory, nomadic, or both." Isn't that wildly interesting?

So, yes, we were really happy to see this bird again. Such a fascinating and beautiful little raptor. I added the above photo, just for one more look. Hello beautiful!


  1. Love that last shot. I’ve never managed to get nearly that close to one while in California, though I’ve seen them flying above me several times.

  2. Never heard of them. It sounds more like our Kestrels who are seen hovering over roadside virges and fields, they are not large but are beautiful. Kites here on the otherhand tend to glide and swoop down to pick up dead prey off the ground. One of the reasons the roadkill round here is not around long.

  3. I remember white tailed kites from when I briefly lived in Mendocino County. Such beautiful birds, and thanks for the info about their range- interesting!

  4. I embiggened the photos - wow! Beautiful bird with a sweet face and eyes. Not sure I've seen one ever....I think it's amazing that we don't know their migratory habits...whether they have them or not. Secret lil' buggers, aren't they?

  5. I had never heard of them. What a beautiful bird! Glad you got such beautiful shots. And thank you so much for the great blog post - your research and writing always add to my knowledge and pleasure.

  6. How thrilling! ---such beautiful creatures.

  7. Loren-- So glad you liked that photo. They are such interesting little raptors; we were so happy to see one again.

    Bill-- Thank you so much for that link. WOW! Red Kites are so beautiful, and your photographs are fantastic.

    Deb-- I was surprised to see their very limited range here out west. I always think that birds we see are common enough to be everywhere. It's nice to be reminded that that's not true.

    John-- Thank you!

    Tara-- Glad you liked the pics. They are fun birds to see and photograph. And yes, what secret lives they lead.

    Pam-- Thank you so much! Your words are very kind, and I appreciate them immensely.

    MandT-- I think you could probably see them in your neck of the woods there. Their hunting method is very noticeable. I hope you do get to see one.

  8. What a cool-looking bird! We don't have them here, so, of course, I've never seen one.

  9. New to me bird and when I clicked on the photo, I was really amazed at its beautiful head and intelligent eyes.
    Would love to see one hanging motionless in air.

  10. Mark-- There is another kind of kite that you might see in Georgia. It's the Mississippi Kite, and it's got marking much like this one. I don't think it hovers when it hunts, but it sure is a beauty. Check this out:

    Arkansas Patti-- It is a beautiful bird. Now I want to see one everyday. Hah! If I get to see one hunting again, I'll try to take a little video and post it here.

  11. Beautiful images, Robin Andrea. Thanks for sharing. Kali and I saw these kites once on a trip to the Everglades, but never saw them before or again.

  12. Scott-- So glad you liked these photos. This bird has such an interesting range. How cool that you saw one in the Everglades.

  13. I'm so happy to see this! We have kites where I live and there are a couple of them who hunt right around our house every late afternoon. They are amazing and it blows my mind to see them "hover" and dive. Whenever I describe them and what they do to people, the think I'm nuts!