September 10, 2007
MISSISSIPPI KITES NEST IN OHIO FOR THE FIRST TIME
Raptor is rare in Ohio; only 15 sightings on record
COLUMBUS, OH – One of the world’s most beautiful raptors has nested in Ohio for the first time. A pair of Mississippi kites successfully produced one offspring on a Hocking County golf course earlier this summer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The Mississippi kite is rarely seen in Ohio, with only about 15 sightings recorded in the state prior to this first-ever nesting. Most of these sightings were of “accidental visitors” that did not stay around for long.
The Hocking County pair has attracted hundreds of birders to the area from all over Ohio and surrounding states. Their nest on the golf course has provided easy viewing opportunities.
The Mississippi kite’s core range is the southern United States, from Texas to the Carolinas. However, this species has been actively expanding northward for some time, and the Ohio kites are now the northernmost known nesting pair. Previously, the northernmost nest was in western Kentucky.
Similar in size to the peregrine falcon, the Mississippi kite weighs about 10 ounces and has an extraordinarily buoyant flight. Adults are mostly gray with a white head and noticeably long wings and tail.
Agile flyers, kites feed mostly on flying insects, adeptly snagging large dragonflies, cicadas, and wasps on the wing. The juvenile bird hatched here has been observed being fed large cicadas by the parent birds - about one every five minutes.
Mississippi kites like open areas interspersed with trees, and often nest around areas such as golf courses. They sometimes establish nesting colonies far removed from their primary population, and may return to nest in Ohio in 2008.
The birds are long-distance migrants, wintering in the tropics of South America. The Hocking County kites will soon leave Ohio to commence the several-thousand-mile-long journey to their wintering grounds.
For Further Information Contact:
Jim McCormac, ODNR Division of Wildlife (614) 265-6440
Vicki Ervin, ODNR Division of Wildlife (614) 265-6325