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Mississippi Kite


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Mississippi Kite makes a streamlined silhouette as it careens through the sky on the hunt for small prey, or dive-bombs intruders that come too close to its nest tree. These sleek, pearly gray raptors often hunt together and nest colonially in stands of trees, from windbreaks on southern prairies to old-growth bottomlands in the Southeast (and even on city parks and golf courses). After rearing their chicks they fly all the way to central South America for the winter.


The Mississippi Kite’s call is a high, 2-syllable whistle: a quick note followed by a long one that trails down in pitch. It calls while flying or perched to advertise its presence, and uses a more emphatic version when a predator is present, often attracting other kites to join in. It may add extra syllables during interactions with its mate or nestlings.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

To find Mississippi Kites, head to the Southeast or the southern prairies of Texas and Oklahoma during the summer. Keep your eyes raised, as these birds spend a lot of their time in the air. Though they can sometimes be very high, they often sail on the wind not much above treetop level, where they zero in on flying insects to catch and devour them on the wing. In the Southeast you’ll have your best luck around large wooded wetlands, but in Texas and Oklahoma don’t discount urban settings, where you may spot them soaring above athletic fields or perching on tall buildings.

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Nothing to Do But Soar?: The curious expansion of the Mississippi Kite. Spring 2012 Living Bird magazine



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