Very large white, black and gray bird. About the size of large red-tailed hawk. Belly white, underside of the top of the wings dark, under tail dark gray. Large eyes (almost appear to have a dark circle around them). Light colored curved (hooked) beak. Pinkish colored talons. Eye color appears to be red, or similar. From the back, the feathers are light gray, white, and dark gray mixed.
Riverine forest, open woodland, and prairies near riparian woodland; regularly in wooded suburbs in some portions of range. Primary food is insects which they can snatch out of the air like a bee or flycatcher. Populations declined until mid-1900s, when increases began. Listed as threatened or endangered in some states. While the Mississippi Kite is not an endangered species, it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which protects the birds, their eggs, and their nests (occupied or empty) from being moved or tampered with without the proper permits. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratory...
Just the past few weeks I have noticed a pair of these hawk like birds sitting high in our trees. I had heard my neighbor's rooster going crazy, when I noticed one of the birds had landed in a tree and appeared to have something in its talons (Unfortunately it was just out of my camera's reach). They look very closely like a White Tailed Kite, but the underside of the tail appears to be too dark. My other thought was the Mississippi Kite, but my books say they are gray, and this bird was/is definitely white on the belly and wings not gray. White tails are sighted rarely here, but Mississippi Kites are somewhat common. I tried to photograph it from all sides, but it is so far up, they are not the best images - I am just hoping they are good enough to get a positive ID.
Lat: 30.47, Long: -83.63
Spotted on Apr 29, 2012
Submitted on May 1, 2012