By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader
Kites have been flying at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA and they hail from Mississippi. That’s right, two Mississippi Kites, insect-eating raptors from the southern United States, were sighted over Bucktoe this Monday evening as they cruised through the air, grabbing dragonflies and other big bugs for an aerial snack.
These beautiful hawks are normally found from Texas to North Carolina and down into Florida. However, each year, a number of them fly way north for some reason and a few lucky people get to see them. They have even stayed to breed in the Northeast in states like New Hampshire. Watching these graceful birds catch insects in mid-air is a special treat, and that is what the group got at Bucktoe on Monday. Down south, these birds like to nest in towns and cities, and have become very well adapted to human landscapes like golf courses and city parks.
A few years ago at Ashland on a walk, I remember another leader saying, “Look at that Red-tailed Hawk, no Red-shouldered Hawk, no, wait……..EVERYBODY GET ON THAT BIRD…..IT’S A MISSISSIPPI KITE!!!” It was a pretty exciting moment. At Bucktoe, I heard that the same thing happened and it was a great 20 minutes of kite-flying for everyone.
Larry Lewis is leading the Great Shorebird and Kite Watch at Bucktoe nightly through June 7th, from 3pm to 8:30 daily. It is the perfect birding, picnic, social event, and many times, they see really cool stuff, like the Mississippi Kites. What they are really looking for, however, are shorebirds heading north on their migration to points north, documenting these species as they fly over Pennsylvania airspace, which is rarely seen. Directions can be found at here .
Come find out for yourself, and enjoy the beautiful sunsets, and the other 6 reasons that Larry gives to come out. I thank Larry Lewis for running the watch, Kelley Nunn for spotting the Kites first, and Hank Davis for getting these gorgeous shots of them.