Mississippi Kites are some of my favorite birds. The uniform slate gray coloration and sleek form of the adult reminds me of a jet fighter plane. Their acrobatic flying skills hone the analogy.

Mississippi Kites are birds of prey, but they hunt mostly insects. On several occasions I witnessed a kite dive out of the sky and skim over the grass in order to nab a hapless grasshopper or dragonfly. With prey in hand (talon) the kites could often be seen feeding while on the wing.

I took these pictures earlier in the summer when I was in far southeast Dallas County to photograph a rare Swallow-tailed Kite. Reportedly, the swallowtail was coming out around midmorning and flying with kettles of Mississippi Kites. And, as it turned out, that was the case.

The Mississippi Kites were to be the indicator that I was in the right place for the swallowtail, but I was unprepared for the sheer number of kites I would encounter on that morning.

At any given time the sky was full of up to 4 or 5 kettles of Mississippi Kites each containing a dozen or more birds. Adults and recently fledged juveniles were present. The sky was swarming with them.

A high flying juvenile kite.
A high flying juvenile kite.

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

That's the Swallow-tailed Kite in the top right.
That’s the Swallow-tailed Kite in the top right.

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Vocalizing.
Vocalizing.
This kite has what appears to be a dragonfly in its talons.
This kite has what appears to be a dragonfly in its talons.
Dozens of kites were in the air at any given time.
Dozens of kites were in the air at any given time.

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

A sleek adult Mississippi Kite.
A sleek adult Mississippi Kite.

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Climbing skyward!
Climbing skyward!

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Mississippi Kite - Kettles

Observation Details

County Dallas Dallas County - Bilindsay Road
City Unincorporated
Date Aug 23, 2013
Time of Day Noon
Temperature Hot (greater than 89°F/32°C)
Weather Partly Cloudy
Habitat Agricultural-Pasture
Type of Behavior Flying
Gender Mixed
Maturity Mixed
Observer Chris Jackson
Main Article Mississippi Kite Observation Location