Mississippi Kite update

The Buckingham Drive juvenile’s primaries have now grown to expected length, beyond the end of its tail. Not surprisingly, it can now fly short distances. Late this afternoon, I watched it fly about 50 feet, from one tree to another. This is apparently the first day it has been capable of flight. According to the current literature, this would put its age at 30 to 35 days. (Literature I am citing is the comprehensive report by Jim Parker for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Birds of North America Online.)

This bird is about a week ahead of the schedule we observed for juveniles in 2008 and 2009. It should be a reluctant flier for the next 15 to 20 days, frequenting the nest area. It will not attempt to catch insects with adults until age 50+ days, so the adults will continue to feed it. Parental feeding will become infrequent after 60 days. On such a timetable, we could expect to see kites in Rockford until at least September 16-21. This is about as long as they stayed the last two years.

As yet, there is no positive indication that the adult kites in other areas around Bloom School have raised young. We have been closely monitoring their activities, and none of them appear to be making repeated feeding trips to a nest site. Certainly, none of them have a young bird following them around begging for food, as would be the case had juveniles left the nest.

If you do happen to see a young bird associating with adults, please report the time and place and particulars so that we can gain knowledge of how this possible range extension is proceeding. Observe carefully, however—young Cooper’s Hawks are about the same size, and are also brown and streaked. They have been seen circling over Bloom School with adult kites several times recently. You can report by commenting on this report, or by using the numbers at Rockford-MIKIs.

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