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Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis


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Mississippi Kite
credit: Rescuechick/CCSA

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly plain gray plumage, dark tail, darker gray back and upper wing coverts and primaries, paler gray on head (note dark patch surrounding red eye), and white upper surface of secondaries. Close view reveals chestnut-colored shafts on upper surface of primaries. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but has darker head and paler undertail coverts. JUVENILE Recalls adult, but underparts and underwing coverts are streaked and mottled chestnut color, and tail is barred.

Dimensions Length: 12-14" (30-36 cm); Wngspn: 3' (91 cm)

Habitat Locally common migrant visitor (mainly Apr-Aug) to open country, including farmland, with scattered woods. Nests colonially. Winters in South America.

Observation Tips Gathers in groups where feeding is good.

Range Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, California, Plains, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Great Lakes, Texas

Voice Utters whistling calls.

Discussion Small raptor with pointed wings and a relatively long tail. Flight is buoyant and it soars and glides on flat wings in a falcon-like manner, sometimes with the tail fanned. Feeds primarily on insects, often caught in flight. Sexes are dissimilar.