The marvelous Swallow-tailed Kite!

A few days ago, while birding in the Everglades, we were treated to the spectacle of two stunning Swallow-tailed Kites swooping and soaring right over our heads for nearly a half hour – what an amazing experience!P1010904Swallow-tailed Kites breed in the southeastern U.S., primarily in the freshwater marshes, wooded swamps, and lake shores of Florida, lucky for us (though I’d only had two previous, brief sightings of this bird).  These Kites spend the fall and winter months in South America (Animal Diversity).P1010900They are unmistakable in flight, twisting and diving with ‘extraordinary aerial grace’ (Birds of North America). Their striking black and white plumage, long pointed wings, and deeply forked tail make them distinctive even from a great distance.

“Our most beautiful bird of prey, striking in its shape, its pattern, and its extraordinarily graceful flight. Hanging motionless in the air, swooping and gliding, rolling upside down and then zooming high in the air with scarcely a motion of its wings, the Swallow-tailed Kite is a joy to watch.” (Audubon)P1010903 “Flying with barely a wingbeat and maneuvering with twists of its incredible tail . . .” (All About Birds)the Kite performs feats of aerial acrobatics, hunting, and even eating, in mid-air.P1010886The Swallow-tailed Kites feed mostly on insects, though they will also eat frogs, snakes and other small animals, especially when feeding their nestlings. These birds were probably out hunting to feed their young, whom we heard calling from the nest.

All About Birds says that the Swallow-tailed Kite has been called β€œthe coolest bird on the planet” – I agree! What an awesome birding experience this was.

24 thoughts on “The marvelous Swallow-tailed Kite!

  1. What a beautiful raptor BJ, stunning shots. I would love to have them over in our part of the world, as I love photographing raptors, as you would know from my posts:-)

  2. The Swallow Tailed Kite when seen in flight is mesmerizing. I double dare you to take your eyes of this special flyer. A very excellent post. Thank you. πŸ‘πŸ‘

  3. Incredible flying bird captures! Thank you so much for introducing the coolest bird on the planet to us! Great post, Bj. πŸ™‚

  4. Oh BJ, what a treat this was to read about. The swallow-tailed kite is a bird I would love to see, and your post, with your descriptions and great photos, got me one step closer. Thanks for sharing this very special sighting.

    • I always love your enthusiasm for the adventures of all your fellow bloggers, Jet! Thanks so much for your thoughts – I hope you have the opportunity to see a Swallow-tailed Kite one day soon πŸ˜‰

    • It was truly a beauty, Tiny – we are actually heading back to this spot tomorrow, as we’re quite sure there are nestlings. Hoping to see some more of their stunning aerial displays ~!

    • So very true, Yaffa! It is really exquisite to watch in action. I hope you’ll see one when you are here sometime in the future! Sometimes they are spotted in the place where you saw the Owls on your last trip πŸ˜‰

  5. Can’t imagine the world without the gorgeous birds! Beautiful shots! I am back from my bird and animal sighting trip to the Nilgiris, and was awestruck by what I saw there.. Posted some of my proud photographs recently on my blog πŸ™‚

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