A Mississippi Kite is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Mississippi Kites. We have also put together a list of fun Mississippi Kite t-shirts, Mississippi Kite bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
About the Mississippi Kite
Despite their name, Mississippi, they are mostly found in the Great Plains. To have a good view of them, you can visit Oklahoma and Texas during the summer. They spend much of their time in the air, where they gracefully zero in on insects and devour them. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Identification
Mississippi Kites are 12-15 inches long, with a wingspan of 3 feet. They are mostly gray in color,
with a lighter gray on their inner wings and heads, and a darker gray on their outer wings and tail
feathers. They are slender birds with narrow wings and long tails. Males and females can be
distinguished by the color of their heads and necks, males are slightly paler in comparison.
Mississippi Kites have a peculiar high-pitched call, closely resembling the sound of a squeaky toy.
Mississippi Kite Color pattern
Mississippi kites are both gray on the upperparts and underparts. Their tail and wing tips are black and have a gray-white head. Juvenile eyes are orange-brown to bright red while adult eyes are scarlet red. Their legs are orange-yellow as seen when flying.
Mississippi Kite Size
They are larger than a crow but dwarfed by a goose. These kites are slender and have pointed wings. Their bill is hooked, small and delicate while the tail is fairly long.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 13.4- 14.6 in (34-37 cm)
- Weight: 12.6 oz (357 g)
- Wingspan range: 34-37 in (86-94 cm)
Mississippi Kite Behavior
These birds are known for their acrobatic flight, spending much of their time in the air sailing in the wind. They are agile which enables them to catch flying insects on the wing. Even though aerialists, they forage on the ground and also in shallow water. They are social birds that hunt in groups.
What Mississippi Kite Eat
Mississippi Kites catch many medium and large-sized insects in the air. Their diet is quite vast,
consisting of beetles, grasshopper, leafhoppers, frogs, lizards, snakes, small birds, and bats. They
can be noticed hunting with other kites, searching for prey while flying over farms, woodlands,
pastures, prairies, and roads. Mississippi Kites scavenge any road-killed animals they can find.
These birds also have economical importance as they eat a variety of crop-damaging pests.
When perched over a tree branch, or on top of shrubbery, they extend one or both feet to grab prey
from the air, often eating it while still flying. They are also known to forage on foot in shallow water,
or even amid low vegetation.
Mississippi kites predominantly feed on insects. The diet is majored by grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies; also devours moths, bees, and other large insects. They eat less of toads, snakes, small birds, rodents, and bats.
Where Mississippi Kites Live
Mississippi Kites use very different habitats for breeding, varying according to the region they
reside in. East of the Mississippi River, they nest in areas with dense low-lying forests which have
open habitats such as croplands, roads, lakes, and waterways nearby. In the central and
Southwestern plains, nest in Oak and mesquite grasslands, windbreak plantings,
cottonwoods, and salt cedar lined rivers. They also like to nest in plum and juniper trees. Since the
70s many Mississippi Kites have begun to nest in urban areas such as golf courses and parks. As
a result of the lack of predators in urban areas, these birds can produce more offsprings.
They primarily nest in Florida, Kansas, and Tennessee, North Carolina, and Lowa, and winter in Florida. They thrive in tree-lined areas and hardwood forests of the Southeast. You can also find them in urban areas, parks, and shelterbelts. The nest site is usually 20-35 ft. above the ground ideally close to the edge of the woodlot.
Range and Migration
Mississippi Kites are small, slender raptors most abundant in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
They are also commonly found across the Southern States such as Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico.
These birds are long-distance migrants, capable of migrating as far as southern subtropical
Southern American during winters. Peculiarly, a few Mississippi kites have been witnessed
wintering in Southern Texas.
Mississippi Kite Lifecycle
The females lay 1-2 eggs and both parents incubate them for 29-31 days. Both parents feed the young ones with insects for the first few weeks. After 4 weeks, they leave the nest by the 5th week after hatching. Their average lifespan is 8 years.
Mississippi Kite Nesting
Mississippi Kites nest in loose colonies. Their courtship behavior is not well documented, it may
involve posturing, and aerial acrobatics. They nest in various trees, with the height varying from 6-
115 feet from the ground. Both members of the pair spend up to a few weeks building their nest.
Nests are made of loosely woven twigs from trees that are in close proximity to the nest site. The
nest cup is lined with leaves and other greenery, which they continue to add throughout the
breeding season, along with random debris. Both males and females contribute towards incubating
the eggs and caring for the young. Mississippi Kites only raise one brood per year, but this entire
process might last for 3 months. Unfortunately, 50% of the broods don’t survive.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Mississippi Kites
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Mississippi Kites are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Mississippi Kite T-shirts
If you love the Mississippi Kite you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Mississippi Kite Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Mississippi Kite is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Mississippi Kite Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Mississippi Kite. Here is the sticker pack we sell with a Mississippi Kite sticker.
Bird Feeders For Mississippi Kite
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Mississippi Kite
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.