The Mississippi Kite: A Summer Visitor to East Texas | Sports

There is now an incredible migration in the skies over eastern Texas.

Most are aware of the migration of waterfowl – teals, ducks and geese – each fall through east Texas on their way to winter in the swamps and rich rice fields of the Texas coast. These waterfowl nest and spend the summer in the northern United States and Canada.

The common migrators in our region in summer are the multiple species of hummingbirds coinciding with the development of the rich nectar of our flowering plants and our feeders. These hummers winter in the tropics of Central and South America.

This generally unnoticed east Texas migrant that winters in South America but breeds and nests here is surprisingly the Mississippi Kite. The Mississippi Kite is a beautiful hawk-like bird with an overall gray body and a lighter ash gray head. It has a completely black triangular tail, deep red eyes and in flight, this bird is smooth, fast and graceful.

Shortly after the hatchlings leave the nest in late July, the magnificent Mississippi kite is most visible soaring in our skies during summer thermals. The presence of the Mississippi Kite in our region is timed with the outbreaks of the cicada and the dragonfly. This bird is one of the few that can catch a green Darner dragonfly on the fly – a site to see. One indicator announcing the presence of the Mississippi Kite is the sound of the cicada.

Mississippi kites are not solitary birds, so it is common to see several birds soaring together. There are many sites in East Texas for viewing the Mississippi Kite in hovering flight; just look up. These birds will be riding the thermals south of the Texas border by Labor Day. This wonderfully magnificent kite migration from the Mississippi to East Texas is no coincidence but rather a perfectly timed event in the wild. Enjoy!

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