This post offers news and makes a request for assistance.
There are two nests of Mississippi Kites under construction by two different pairs of birds. Construction of the first one probably began on 12 May. The second nest was under construction on 20 May, and from its size then, my guess is that it was started around the 17th. The males are building, with females often perched nearby, not always on a conspicuous perch. The birds frequently call to each other.
First, a bit of history. In 2008, the first Rockford kite nest was found in a deciduous tree at Bloom School. A nest was found in 2009 in a pine near Luther and Pioneer. A nest was found last year in a pine tree near Buckingham and Fairview Court, and we have reason to believe that the same nest tree was also used in 2009. (It is not being used this year.) All of these nests were located just before birds fledged and left them; none were located during construction.
In addition to adult birds seen those years, the following birds were recorded:
2008: 1 fledgling
2009: 1 fledgling, 1 subadult
2010: 3 fledglings, 1 subadult male
No subadults have yet been seen this year.
There are more details at http://tinyurl.com/2010-MIKI.
Rockford appears to be in the vanguard of a significant Mississippi Kite range expansion. We can contribute useful information about this expansion by monitoring population size and changes here in Rockford. It is difficult to differentiate individual adults—we can’t mark them—so the best way to be sure of a minimum population size is to associate them with nests. Your observations can help with this, but only if you report them.
Kites soaring in the sky feeding (or whatever) cover a wide area and don’t indicate where nests might be. The nests located so far were found by cruising streets in the morning, between 6 and 10, listening for kites, and hoping to catch sight of low-flying birds. Nest-building occurs primarily in the morning, around 6 to 10, before birds go out to feed. If you see or hear low-flying / calling birds in an area, please let us know where that is by calling me at 815-877-6229 or Dan Williams at 815-979-8335. We think that the extended Bloom School area in which kites might be nesting is bounded by Highcrest and Rural on the north and south, and by Parkview and Chelsea on the west and east. I believe that last year, in addition to the spots where young birds were found, kites could have nested, successfully or not, just south of Guilford near Woodlane, and west of James near Barrington Place.