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Enchanting Mississippi Kites: Discover Their Secrets and Spectacular Habits

Mississippi Kites: Beautiful Raptors of the Central and Southern U.S.

As soon as summer kicks off in the central and southern United States, Mississippi Kites make their presence known in the region. These stunning birds of prey grace the skies with their aerial acrobatics, leaving birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts enchanted.

Mississippi Kites are known for being handsome, graceful, and swift, making them a favorite among bird enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the distribution and habitat of Mississippi Kites, as well as their breeding and migration habits.

Range and Distribution

Mississippi Kites are commonly found along the Mississippi River, and parts of the Great Plains, in the Central and Southern U.S. during summer. During winter, they fly southward to South America and some parts of Mexico and Central America.

It’s worth noting that the range and distribution of Mississippi Kites are not limited to the United States. There have been records of Mississippi Kites observed as far south as Argentina, indicating that their range extends beyond North America.

Additionally, they are known to migrate, and each year during the fall, Mississippi Kites travel southward through Florida, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Central and northern South America. Nevertheless, some Mississippi Kites are only seen as vagrant visitors to states far outside their predicted range.


Mississippi Kites reside in various habitats, including woodlands, urban and suburban landscapes, parks, golf courses, and open pastures. During breeding season, these birds prefer semi-open areas or areas with scattered trees, where they can easily locate their prey.

Even though Mississippi Kites can survive in urban and suburban parks, they are less likely to breed there. Open pastures, on the other hand, are an ideal habitat for Mississippi Kites during the non-breeding season, as it provides a perfect environment for hunting.

Breeding Grounds

Generally, Mississippi Kites breed in the southern central states and the southeastern United States. Reports from birdwatchers and breeding surveys suggest that the breeding population of Mississippi Kites is mostly concentrated in Northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

While the breeding range of Mississippi Kites continues to expand northward, records now show that they breed in Nebraska, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa. Their breeding periods follow the availability of food, with most birds starting in early April and ending in August.


Migration is a significant component of Mississippi Kites’ life cycle, and they migrate twice every year. During fall, they head to Central and northern South America to winter and return to their breeding locations in spring.

Migration is a treacherous journey for Mississippi Kites as they fly over thousands of miles that cover different terrains, such as open water crossings, forests, and deserts. Many Mississippi Kites rely on daily stopovers and perches to rest and stay safe from predators or capture prey, as they make their way to their destination.

Mississippi Kites’ migration season begins in late July through August and ends in early November and early May.


Living and breeding in the Central and Southern U.S., Mississippi Kites are fascinating aerial hunters and raptors. They are known for their stunning features and graceful gliding, which captures the eyes and hearts of bird lovers and enthusiasts.

This article has explored the range and distribution of Mississippi Kites, their preferred habitat, breeding grounds, and regions where they migrate. Understanding the Mississippi Kites’ migration and breeding patterns can help conservationists in creating management plans that protect their breeding and wintering grounds.

This will ensure these birds remain a vital part of our ecosystem for years to come.

Sightings and Populations of Mississippi Kites

Mississippi Kites have a unique way of capturing the hearts of bird enthusiasts with their graceful flight and incredible hunting skills. Even though these birds are becoming increasingly rare in some parts of their range, birdwatchers and nature lovers still look forward to their annual arrival.

In this addendum, we will discuss the common locations for Mississippi Kites sightings, their rarity, and population patterns.

Common Locations

Mississippi Kites are often seen in Southeastern U.S. states, such as Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama. However, they also frequent open fields, priries, and riparian woodlands in the Southern Prairies, especially the Great Plains.

The Mississippi River valley is another popular location for sightings of these birds. Skeen’s Farm, located in central Mississippi, and Glenville, located in southeast Georgia, are two places in the United States where sightings of Mississippi Kites have been most often reported.

Rarity and Populations

In the last few decades, the Mississippi Kite population has declined, but this trend has recently shifted, and the numbers have started to increase again. The global population of Mississippi Kites is estimated at around 67,000, according to BirdLife International.

Nevertheless, in some regions, populations have drastically declined. In Oklahoma, for example, the number of these raptors has decreased by approximately 25% over the past two decades.

Human activities, such as urbanization and land development, have significantly reduced their habitat range. However, conservation efforts and the protection of nesting sites have had some positive impacts in reversing population decline in some areas.

Behavioral Patterns of Mississippi Kites

Mississippi Kites have unique behavioral patterns that make them stand out among other birds of prey. From their daily routines to their group dynamics, Mississippi Kites exhibit fascinating behaviors.

Daily Routine

Mississippi Kites are diurnal, meaning they are active during daylight hours. Their days are mostly spent hunting, grooming, and resting.

At sunset, they seek roosts with tall trees and extensive canopies. They return to their nest sites located in semi-open or open environments for sleeping.

Unlike some birds of prey, Mississippi Kites rarely hunt at night. Their food comprises mostly insects, rodents, bats, and small birds.

Insects, especially cicadas, which are abundant in the southern United States, are the staple of the Mississippi Kites’ diet during breeding seasons.

Group Dynamics

During complete migration or long-distance movements, Mississippi Kites tend to form into flocks that fly in loose, graceful formations. They fly in a swerving and jinking, with low swoops over fields or trees, which they use to disturb prey and create opportunity for capture.

The size of the flocks varies, and many of these birds are solitary outside of breeding periods. Mississippi Kites are also known to have aggressive interactions with other birds of prey to protect their nesting sites or territories.


Understanding the distribution and population patterns of Mississippi Kites, as well as their unique behavioral patterns, can help conservationists protect these raptors and their habitat. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts can also use this knowledge to reduce the impact of their activities on these birds and their nests.

Mississippi Kites play an essential role in controlling populations of insects and rodents in the regions they inhabit. Therefore, protecting these birds benefits both humans and the environment.

In conclusion, Mississippi Kites are incredible birds of prey worth watching and protecting. Their range and distribution, habitat, breeding and migration patterns, and unique behaviors make them a vital part of our ecosystem.

While their populations have decreased in some regions, conservation efforts have helped reverse this trend. Understanding the importance of these birds can help us ensure that they continue to thrive and play their significant role in the environment.

Here are some FAQs that cover the key topics in this article:

1. What is the habitat of Mississippi Kites?

Mississippi Kites prefer semi-open or open areas with scattered trees, including woodlands, urban and suburban landscapes, parks, golf courses, and open pastures. 2.

Where do Mississippi Kites breed? Mississippi Kites breed in southern central states and southeastern United States.

3. How far do Mississippi Kites migrate?

During migration, Mississippi Kites travel south to Central and northern South America and some parts of Mexico and Central America, covering thousands of miles.


Are Mississippi Kite populations declining or increasing? While the population of these birds has declined in some areas due to human activities, conservation efforts have been successful in reversing this trend.

5. What do Mississippi Kites eat?

Their food comprises mostly insects, rodents, bats, and small birds.

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