The mascot of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is a much admired, graceful, elegant raptor that can be found throughout much of the state from early spring to early fall. During the winter months, all of the United States’ swallow-tailed kites can be found in Brazil. The kites begin to leave Brazil around the turn of the year and fly more than 3,000 miles to the south-eastern USA. The first kites are often reported from southern Florida in early February but the bulk of our state population doesn’t arrive until late-March/early-April.
Flying with consummate ease the kite plucks frogs, lizards, snakes, ants, dragonflies and even nestlings from the tops of trees; in Central America, kites have even been observed eating fruit! Kites prefer to eat their food on the wing. During the spring and summer it is not uncommon to see several pairs of kites building their nests in close proximity to each other.
Look for swallow-tailed kites over wetland habitats, along rivers, over agricultural fields (particularly in late summer) and pine forest. Large congregations of kites gather in select areas around Florida in late July and August before they embark on their long journey south to Brazil.
The Avian Research and Conservation Institute has been studying swallow-tailed kites since 1988. Their research has revealed many important and fascinating aspects of kite ecology. To learn more visit the ARCI website.To learn more about where you can see swallow-tailed kites in Florida visit the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail website.
- article taken from the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail's monthly newsletter “Kite Tails"
Read the article here.