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Mississippi Kite

A new member of Travis Audubon, Scott Nowlin, spotted a flock of 4-5 birds which he believed to be peregrine falcons. He contacted Travis Audubon for additional information about these birds. He said that the birds were soaring high above the Barton Creek Country Club/Omni Hotel grounds. He was wondering if this was typical behavior for this type of bird (to fly in a small group).

Charles Stephens, September’s resident birding expert, provided us with the answer to Scott’s question. 

Thank you for your question regarding the raptor you got to witness. One part of your description “flying high” did match a characteristic of a peregrine falcon, but they are very rare seen with another falcon unless it’s a male courting a female. They are almost always seen flying and hunting solo.

The species of raptors matching your description sounds more like the Mississippi Kites which coincidentally are migrating through our area now & over the next few weeks.  I saw 6-10 Kites a week ago when I was out near Lake Travis and again I saw another smaller group just this past Tuesday near my home at Mopac & 2222. The Kites have pointed wings like a falcon and when they are in a soaring position they really both have similar profiles.

Most Kites when migrating though our area usually come down around sunset to roost for the night and usually start to get soaring again by around 10am when the sun has started to raise the temperature. The birds will find columns of rising hot air and will soar in a circular manner for the free ride to very high altitudes where they will then point north and continue on their migration.

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