You can hear their shrill cry every day. And see them gracefully soaring through the sky, several at a time. The Mississippi Kites are back, nesting in the big oak and other trees in our neighborhood and across Oklahoma City.
They're a bird success story, adapting to urban life where there are less predators--owls and raccoons, etc.--to prey on their nesting colonies...usually two eggs a nest. Their range is increasing, and their numbers, although breeding range is southern Great Plains and the Southeast. After about two months of nurturing eggs and feeding young, they'll be off on a fall migration to South America because their main diet of insects decrease. They'll also eat small amphibians and sometimes a rabbit or small pet, but I suspect in Oklahoma they're fat and sassy on our summer insects.
Graceful doesn't seem to adequately describe their aerial ability and buoyancy. I'm fascinated how their long, pointed wings--about a three-foot wingspan-- and slender tail work in unison go guide them through the skies.
This is one of several favorite birds, others being the Osprey, and almost any owl. But Mississippi Kites are welcome, perennial guests who capture my imagination, wonder and admiration.
Photo from the Smithsonian's Migratory Bird Center http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/MigratoryBirds/default.cfm