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Mississippi Kite

Photo by Bob Gress


Common Name: Mississippi Kite

Scientific Name: Ictinia mississippiensis


Length: 12 - 15 inches
Wingspread: 29 - 33 inches
Weight: 8 - 13 ounces


Comments: With their long pointed wings and long tails Mississippi kites are sometimes mistaken for falcons. In flight they appear uniformly battleship gray with a light gray head that sometimes appears nearly white. The eyes of adult kites are dark red. In flight, they are a joy to watch. Circling, soaring and swooping with other kites they drift back and forth and sometimes remain aloft for hours. They are appropriately named. So graceful and effortless is their flight they appear to be attached by a string. Their nests are found in mature trees in shelterbelts, windbreaks, city parks, golf courses and residential neighborhoods. They are known for their aggressive dives on intruders that venture too close to the nest site

Distribution: Mississippi kites currently breed in the southern United States from central Arizona to the Atlantic Coast. Their breeding range in Kansas lies in the southwestern and south-central part of the state. Most kites winter in central South America.

Food: Kites are skilled at capturing cicadas and grasshoppers on the fly. They will also capture large insects on the ground. Occasionally they will feed on small birds, rodents, frogs and snakes.