Tag Archives: Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite

We’ve been seeing a few Swallow-tailed Kites around, including one flying over our house last week, so I wasn’t surprised to spot a group of 10 or 15 circling over one of the marshes this morning.

Swallow-tailed Kite Feeding
Swallow-tailed Kite Feeding Midair

These raptors feed by snatching insects, often dragonflies, out of the air or off their perch on a tree or reed.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Their flight skills are just amazing and they make full use of their tail and wings to swoop and dive.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite, Insect in Claw

A mix of Swallow-tailed Kites, Mississippi Kites, and few terns were working this area.

Swallow-tailed Kites, Mississippi Kites, Gulls
Swallow-tailed Kites, Mississippi Kites, Gulls

Swallow-tailed Kite

With an unmistakable silhouette, the Swallow-tailed Kite is an amazingly skilled flyer. From Cornell’s All About Birds: “Rarely flapping their wings, they soar and make tight turns, rotating their tail to steer.”

These images are cropped quite a bit; I didn’t get any close ups, but if you enlarge the photos you can get a bit more detail.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Guaranteed to make your neck hurt they are very cool to watch.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

While doing all this acrobatic flying they grab flying insects with their feet:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Then pass the prey to their beak:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

On this day an approaching storm and boisterous clouds added to the drama of the scene.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Their territory and numbers have dwindled in the US, and are continuously threatened by habitat loss.