Mississippi Kite

(Ictinia mississippiensis)

 Arrived at Lakeside Nature Center Summer, 2010.

Our US Fish and Wildlife Services agent brought in the young Mississippi kite from a destroyed nest site along the Missouri river outside of Columbia.  It still had down and was not flighted, but seemed healthy otherwise.  A few weeks went by and naturalists noticed a wing droop.  X-rays showed a calcified 35 degree fracture of both the right radius and ulna.  Our veterinarian thinks this was a greenstick fracture (a bending fracture in young growing bones) that went undetected on initial exam and worsened as the soft bone came in contact with the cage while the bird was practicing flying.  Such a drastic deformity would not allow us to release the bird, so LNC has received permission to keep the kite as our newest education bird.

Natural history notes.

  • Mississippi Kites aren't found in the Kansas City area, but they are native to Missouri.

  • Immature kites don't look like adults at all.  They have white or buff heads and their necks and tummies are heavily streaked with brown and black.

  • Their call is a high-pitched squeak, something like a squeaky dog toy

  • The body length and wingspan of the kite and the Peregrine Falcon are similar, but the falcon can be 3 times heavier.  Lightweight bodies give kites a buoyant flight.

  • The overall population of Mississippi kites is stable or increasing.  However, they are still threatened in some states by habitat destruction.

Check out this kite's picture gallery.

For more information on Mississippi Kites, check out the Critter Corner entry.