Chirps and Cheeps

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  Swallow-tailed Kites in NY!

Published: August 10, 2020
Tags: Rarities, swallow-tailed kite

An amazing report came in that there were TWO Swallow-tailed Kites being seen along Lake Ontario in Orleans County.  Here I was, deep into our family's "Staycation" with events planned every day.  When that report came in, we were all headed up to the marina to do some kayaking on the river.  It was all I could do to keep my hands on the wheel and maintain the course without swerving North East to see those kites!

Swallow-tailed Kites are very rare in Western New York; they are very rare in the north, period!  They're mainly found in Florida and along the southern east coast of the states as well as in Central America, wintering in South America.  One of the more fascinating things I find about them is that they will hunt insects or lizards and eat them on the wing, deftly catching them with their talons and raising them to their hooked bill to eat - all while flying.  I got to see this in Florida when my daughter and I went a couple of years ago - very cool acrobatic feats!

As it turned out, the kites remained for several more days.  I had a break in our events the next morning and waited tensely for news of the kites.  Once I heard they were still there, I made the hour and a half dash/drive up to the Hamlin area in hope of getting a visual.  I was very, very lucky!  Within two minutes of my arrival, one appeared in the distance, its black and white form easily identified as it wove back and forth over the skyline showcasing its magnificent forked tail.  Wow!  What a beautiful bird, even from a distance.  As I and a group of about ten other entranced birders "oohed" and "ahhed", it was soon joined by another kite.  How rare to get to see this bird in NYS, let alone TWO of them!

Just when I felt a sense of urgency growing to get back to my family's vacation fun, one of the kites made a close pass overhead.  Amazing!  I was so glad I hadn't left before that.  I couldn't wait to get home to show the photos to the family!

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Gorgeous Swallow-tailed Kite

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It was so nice it made a low pass over our group!

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This guy was eating its catch!

Reply from: Sarah Seaboldt on 8/2/2021 5:08 PM
 A Swallowtail Kite graced us with it’s presences on Saturday the 31st here in Mahopac, New York. If the resident red tail hawk was not happy. The Swallowtail stayed for a good 30 minutes. Driving and spinning with ease as he was being chased.
Reply from: Sue on 8/2/2021 5:46 PM
 That's so great! Such an unusual visitor to NYS!

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