Tag: MississippiKites

Happy World Migratory Bird Day!! Though it is really every day…..

So today is World Migratory Bird Day–at least in the US and Canada. It is celebrated on the second Saturday in May, though if you live in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central or South America it is celebrated on the second Saturday in October.

I decided to look through all the pictures that I have taken over the past two years (give or take six months) and make a collage of all the migratory birds that have passed through the central part of Oklahoma.

So far I have managed to spot 28 different birds.

Those birds include (going from top left to bottom right):

The great (or common) egret, the ruby-throated hummingbird, the yellow-rump warbler, the eastern kingbird, the green heron, the western kingbird, the turkey vulture, and the scissor-tailed flycatcher.

The blue-winged teal, the bufflehead, the black-crowned night heron, the Baltimore oriole, the white-crowned sparrow, and the Mississippi kite.

The laughing gull, the yellow warbler, the purple martin, the spotted sandpiper, the canvasback, the dark-eyed junco, and the white pelican.

The double-crested cormorant, the cedar waxwing, the common loon, the osprey, the ring-billed gull, the northern shoveler, and the sharp-shinned hawk.

Plus the one that I somehow forgot to add to the collage: the cliff swallow.

Cliff swallows flying over Boomer Lake

So, technically then the number of migratory species seen is actually at 29.

Several of these birds already have their own page under the bird tab, and those that don’t will be getting their pages added throughout the year.

I’ve decided that a goal for the late spring/summer season is to see how many other songbirds I can spot at Boomer Lake, and a goal for the fall/winter is to get up there earlier in the day and see how many other duck species I can spot that are only stopping briefly during their migration to their winter grounds.

Did you know that the Oklahoma state bird is only present in the state during late spring to early fall? Do you know what the state bird of Oklahoma is (hint–it’s within the collage)?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyRandom Celebration Days

Accipitridae family section complete: Mississippi Kite & Sharp-shinned Hawk pages are live

So currently the last two Accipitridae family pages have been uploaded today.

Mississippi Kites sitting atop some cedar trees at Boomer Lake

Both of the birds are seasonal visitors to Stillwater. The Mississippi kites are here from late spring through early/mid autumn. At least one pair nests around Boomer Lake, I’m sure that there are other pairs also at the lake, but possibly back in the wooded areas or closer to the golf course.

They easy to spot during the summer time, especially in the mornings, sometimes in the afternoon, and then again in the evenings.

Possible young female sharp-shinned hawk

The sharp-shinned hawks are our winter guests, staying from probably late fall/early winter until mid-spring, when they probably start migrating back up north to their breeding territories.

I will admit that there are times when I almost trip over the bird before I see it–and that was how this one was–which is why only one out of the four pictures turned out decently. I’m thinking that when I do manage to start walking at Boomer Lake in the mornings, I’m going to try to keep my eye out for the hawks–especially the ones that sit still in the trees waiting for a meal to either dart out across the field or fly past.

So, these two pages currently round out the members of the Accipitridae family that I’ve seen in the wild.

There are twenty-two species that can be seen within the US, Canada, and Mexico–and currently I have pictures of five of them (or 22%). I have seen a couple of the other hawks–I just don’t have pictures of them. When I do manage to get pictures of them, they will be added to the Accipitridae section.

Therefore to finish off the Accipitriformes order, I will be adding in the family and species pages for the osprey next. Then it will be order and family pages for the ruby-throated hummingbird. After those four pages, I will start working down a long list of birds that I’ve managed to get pictures of over the years.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographyScienceUpdates

Photography Challenge day 187 goes to the birds

The winners of today’s photography challenge are the birds. I managed to get candid pictures of several different birds over the weekend.

For starters—there is the nuthatch that was feeding on the suet feeder. While I managed to get several good pictures—the one I like the most is the one of it with a sunflower seed in it’s beak. It then quickly flew off to the trees to crack the seed and eat it.

Nuthatch with it’s prize–a sunflower seed.

The next one is a hummingbird that was sitting in the crepe myrtles by the feeder. I was calling it the “goth” hummingbird. The main reason, is it was so cloudy I couldn’t tell for certain if it was a male ruby-throated hummingbird or maybe a male black-chinned hummingbird migrating through. Though this is the first time I’ve seen one where the entire head looked black.

Male hummingbird in the crepe myrtle.

This one was around all weekend–I’m thinking that now anytime I see a male hummingbird that I can’t identify, I’m going to be calling them the “goth” hummingbirds.

Egret surveying it’s surroundings.

Several egrets have landed in the area before heading further south. I think that they wait until they have a good number in the flock before they continue on their journey. I saw three of them this weekend in different parts of the lake. I know from my late-winter/early-spring walks there can be upwards of a good fifteen or twenty of them flocking together. So it will be interesting to see how many more show up before they all head south for the winter.

Young Mississippi kite taking a break from hunting.

So there were numerous Mississippi kites up at the lake this weekend. Usually I would only see maybe one or two off in the distance hunting–but this weekend I would swear I saw a good two dozen kites throughout the area. There was this young one sitting in the tree, taking a break from hunting dragonflies and other insects.

Mississippi kite sitting on a dead tree, surveying the area

Then I saw this one across the street, sitting and watching another portion of the lake for dragonflies and other flying insects. Since it is getting close to the time that they will start heading south–the youngsters are out hunting, instead of sitting near the nest waiting on mom and dad to bring back dead insects for them to eat.

Hopefully this coming weekend, I will be able to get a couple more pictures of them before they head south for the winter. It will also be interesting to see how many of them come back to the area in the spring.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 162: The Mississippi Kite

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the Mississippi kite. I’ve been lucky the past couple of days of seeing them sitting on the utility wires watching for insects to pass by, before they swoop in for the kill.

Mississippi Kite launching from the wire

These are migratory raptors, that breed in either the southeastern part of the country (Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and parts of southeastern Arkansas), plus the parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. We usually see them as they sail through the sky (usually just over the tops of trees), but every so often I can catch a glimpse of them sitting in trees or on wires.

It’s snack is grasped in one foot.

Last year I managed to get some really closeup pictures of them in the park. So far this year, my seeing them has been at a distance but I’ve still managed to get some good pictures.

It is eating it’s snack

This one I managed to catch it as it was launching into flight to grab it’s morning snack out of the air.

Then it returned to it’s perch to eat—and I’m pretty sure it probably caught a dragonfly (or a damselfly).

I’m still hungry…..

Then it neatly turned around to continue watching for more dragonflies or other insects to fly past, because I think it was still hungry.

Come fall these majestic birds will fly all the way to South America for the winter. One of the most unique things about these birds–they incorporate wasp nests into either their nests or the choice of where their nests go. The presence of a wasp nest will usually help deter any climbing predators away from the nest. They also can peacefully nest near other birds such as mockingbirds and blue jays (both of which are territorial–so it’s three for the price of one in terms of nest protection).

While I couldn’t get close to this kite, I’m pretty sure it’s still an adult (or at least a yearling)–while it would be cool to get a picture of a fledgling, I’m not going to risk getting dive bombed by either the parents or angry mockingbirds and blue jays. Adults and yearlings are the way to go for a good photograph.

I’m thinking that the theme for this coming week is sitting on a wire or gliding through the air.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Day 4: Mississippi Kites

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the pair of Mississippi kites that I saw on my morning walk at Boomer Lake. Truthfully, I almost missed seeing them—I’d turned at just the right time to see a bird swoop into a tree, and when I went to get a closer look, I realized that it was a pair of Mississippi kites.

                           Mississippi Kites

I’ve seen the kites all summer—but usually when they’re just swooping around in the sky foraging for flying insects and they’re usually a good block or so away and I can never get a good picture. Today I managed to get several good pictures of them.

       Swooping Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) is a bird of prey that spends its summers in both the southeastern and southwestern parts of the United States (it winters down in central South America). Unlike larger birds of prey, the Mississippi kite feeds primarily on insects though will also forage on small reptiles, amphibians, smaller birds, small mammals and bats.

These graceful birds can be seen throughout the day flying and soaring though the sky as they hunt for their meals. Since these are social birds, usually they can be seen in groups as small as just a pair, upwards to a dozen or more (depending on how main breeding pairs and yearlings are in the area).

                  One Mississippi Kite

As much as I’d like to get a picture of the youngsters—I’m going to need a better lens that zooms as the pairs are fiercely territorial and will dive bomb anything that gets to close to the nest. Obviously this morning, either the tree where they were perched didn’t contain the nest, or the youngsters are old enough that the parents don’t dive bomb any more, or I was still far enough away that they didn’t see me as a threat.

             Two Mississippi Kites

And here are a couple of more unusual facts about these graceful birds:

They may build their nests near (or incorporate) a wasp nest to help protect their eggs and chicks from climbing predators (because who wants to mess with a colony of wasps?).

They allow certain smaller birds to nest near them (namely mockingbirds, blue jays, and house sparrows).

Facts and trivia were found at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mississippi_Kite/overview

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography