Migrating kites roosting within the backyard on their technique to South America

August 31, 2021

Austin’s Kite Competition, held yearly in March, ought to maybe be moved to August. Why? Proper now large flocks of Mississippi kites are passing by means of Austin on the best way to their wintering grounds in South America.

In all seriousness, although, the sight of fifty to 75 kites swirling final night by means of our yard and roosting within the tops of the reside oaks awed me. It was fortunate we noticed them. My husband and I have been sitting on the sofa, dealing with the glass doorways overlooking the deck. Motion exterior caught our consideration on the identical time, and we stood as much as see what was taking place. Dozens and dozens of huge, dark-winged birds have been circling over the deck and swimming pool. Fully silent. As we watched, they settled into the bushes to relaxation.

Are these…? we turned to one another to ask. For the previous a number of weeks we’ve noticed raptors with pointed wings hovering on thermals excessive above our pool, and sometimes swooping all the way down to treetop degree to select off a big dragonfly (these often circle above the pool too). We thought they could be kites however didn’t really feel assured of the ID.

However final night we have been surrounded by these elegant grey birds with hooked beaks. Positively raptors of some kind, however what chook of prey flocks in such giant numbers? I grabbed my digicam, posted pics on my Fb web page, and acquired immediate affirmation from educated birding mates that these are Mississippi kites. I additionally discovered that they’re passing by means of Austin proper now in large numbers on their technique to South America, the place they’ll spend the winter. What’s extra, hundreds — thousands and thousands? — of different migrating birds are flying south by means of Texas proper now and in coming weeks. We’re a stopover on the avian migration path!

The kites didn’t stick round lengthy, and a few skittishly flew out of the bushes when our again door by chance slammed. However others stayed lengthy sufficient for me to {photograph} — and to wow us each with their numbers, their measurement, and their magnificence. I really feel fortunate to have seen them and glad we had the remaining cease they have been in search of.

By the best way, do you know that migrating birds usually journey at evening and navigate by starlight or moonlight, and the substitute lights of cities can disorient them on their journey? Audubon’s Lights Out initiative asks People to assist by turning off exterior lights between 11 pm and 6 am throughout migration season. A number of Texas counties, together with Austin’s Travis County, are taking part. You’ll be able to assist by turning off exterior lights, particularly floodlights and uplighting, throughout the in a single day hours by means of November thirtieth. Constructing managers can also play an enormous half by turning off lights on the higher flooring of workplace buildings or closing blinds in a single day.

Lights out, y’all, and godspeed to the birds!

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