Have you seen this bird? Why Mississippi wants sightings of swallow-tailed kites reported – Clarion Ledger


‘It’s such a particular species due to its actually lengthy wings and actually lengthy, forked tail. I feel it is probably the most lovely chicken on the planet. They appear heavenly.’

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Coolest chicken on earth: Swallow-tailed kites

This chicken’s aerial grace because it swoops and twists over the timber catching bugs is a sight to behold.

Ginny Beagan, TCPALM

  • This is who to e-mail or name to report a sighting.
  • Sightings have been reported in these Mississippi counties.
  • Details about sightings helps biologists monitor, defend nesting neighborhoods.

Swallow-tailed kites are sometimes called the best birds on Earth.

If you happen to occur to identify one in Mississippi, biologists need to know in an effort to assist defend and develop the inhabitants.

“It’s such a particular species due to its actually lengthy wings and actually lengthy, forked tail,” mentioned Jennifer Coulson, who’s working with the Mississippi Museum of Pure Science in a examine of the birds. “I feel it is probably the most lovely chicken on the planet.”

Swallow-tailed kites had been as soon as present in some 21 states, however are now solely discovered within the Gulf Coast states, Georgia and South Carolina. Couslon mentioned previous to about 140 years in the past the birds might be discovered all around the state, however the inhabitants started to say no.

Find out how to report a sighting: E-mail the date, time, location and variety of birds to nick.winstead@mmns.ms.gov

“About 100 years in the past, coinciding with loads of clear-cutting of swamps, there was a inhabitants crash,” Coulson mentioned. “It was additionally when the longleaf pine savannah was harvested, too. Definitely there was in depth breeding-ground loss within the state.’ 

“It was round 1880 to 1930 — that time-frame. It was in depth harvesting of the swamps. That was one of many strongholds of their populations.”

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Swallow-tailed kites sighted in these Mississippi counties

Researchers consider the birds could also be regaining a few of their historic vary in Mississippi.

Coulson mentioned information from about 10 years in the past and earlier confirmed Mississippi solely holding swallow-tailed kites, or STKs as they’re usually referred to as within the birding world, on the Coast. In newer years, elevated numbers of sightings of swallow-tailed kites and their nests are being documented in Central Mississippi.

“This yr we have been receiving numerous sightings within the Raymond space,” Coulson mentioned. “Quite a lot of the sightings have been close to city and alongside 14-mile Creek as nicely.”

Sufficient sightings have been within the Raymond space for her to suspect they’re breeding there. Counties the place nesting has been documented embody Copiah, Franklin, Lincoln, Marion, and Simpson together with a number of farther south.

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Swallow-tailed kites an uncommon raptor

Swallow-tailed kites are state and federally protected birds of prey that feed on bugs and small vertebrates.

 “They do not eat something giant,” Coulson mentioned. “They don’t go after chickens or poults.

“They hunt tree frogs, ribbon snakes and inexperienced snakes. They are going to hunt child birds in nests and timber. They feed on the wing.”

Additionally they feed on wasp larvae. Whereas a clumsy job, Coulson mentioned the birds will take away wasp nests from branches and fly away with them. When they’re safely away from the grownup wasps, they tear open the chambers of the nest and eat the larvae.

Additionally, in contrast to most different birds of prey, they usually hunt and roost in teams.

Their flight appears virtually easy as their 4-foot wingspan and comparatively small physique permit them to remain aloft with minimal flapping. That is useful throughout migrations.

Coulson mentioned swallow-tail kites start arriving in Mississippi as early as late February . They depart between mid-July and early September — and their journey is a protracted one.

“They go all the way in which right down to southern Brazil,” Coulson mentioned. “The spherical journey is round 10,000 miles.

“They cross the Andes at their highest level in Columbia. They’re globetrotters.”

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Swallow-tailed kites create nesting neighborhoods

Nick Winstead, conservation sources biologist for the Mississippi Museum of Pure Science, mentioned reporting sightings is vital as a result of swallow-tailed kite motion is a gradual course of and the stories can assist insure newly established areas stay.

“That is actually vital as a result of the way in which these birds reoccupy new areas is gradual,” Winstead mentioned. “The explanation it is gradual is as a result of they prefer to nest close to one another.

“They’re referred to as nesting neighborhoods. A part of that’s as a result of they forage collectively. They type of observe one another round to search out good looking spots.”

If there’s a cluster of sightings or particulars point out breeding, Coulson flies over the realm. If a nest is noticed, the landowners are knowledgeable in case they do not notice the birds are there.

“We encourage them to attempt to defend the nesting web site, at the very least throughout the nesting season,” Winstead mentioned. “It is all purely voluntary. Most individuals appear to be as a result of they’re actually cool-looking birds.”

Contact Brian Broom at 601-961-7225 or bbroom@gannett.com. Comply with Clarion Ledger Outside on Fb and @BrianBroom on Twitter.

Find out how to report a swallowed-tail kite sighting 

To report a sighting, notice the day, time, precise location and what number of swallow-tailed kited had been noticed and e-mail the data to Winstead at nick.winstead@mmns.ms.gov. Winstead mentioned he can be reached by telephone at 601-576-6000. 

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