Before I begin this post, a disclaimer. The following pictures are not mine, however to show you the beauty of this species of birds I had to borrow them from other places. Believe me I tried, but they were so far away.
There are plenty of beautiful birds in the world, however the one at the top of my list is so striking in color, graceful in flight, and built for speed I can’t help but love this bird. If you remember my first, as brief as it was, encounter with a Swallow-tailed Kite was while vacationing at Epcot I spotted the bird circling over the lagoon at the park. As brief as that glimpse was I knew that was a special bird. And being in Florida it isn’t uncommon to find Swallow-tailed Kites, however…
Yesterday I read a post from some area birders who spotted a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites in Boone County near the Boone Conservancy Park on Ky. Route 18. Later that evening Brian Wulker, a very talented young birder confirmed the sighting by visiting the park in the late afternoon. This is an unbelievable find. This is their range map I copied off “All About Birds”.
As you can see they don’t come up here in our part of the country too often. So I text Jon Frodge to see if he would be up for a chase after work today, and of course he was. So I left work at my normal time and made my way home to pick up all my gear and then out on the highway for the long drive over.
I arrived at the park at 5:00 pm and set up my spotting scope and started to scan the horizon in the direction that Brain said he saw the birds. After 10 minutes I spotted my first one. Then a few minutes later I spotted the second one. This is too good to be true. For the next 15 minutes I watched as they soared and dived together, hardly flapping their wings as they used their long, forked tail as a rudder. They were difficult to keep track of as they flew behind trees only to return to view someplace else. But there is no mistaking them as they come into view and show us their good side. When you see one of these birds from below, you will never forget what you’re looking at.
I watched these 2 Kites for almost 2 hours, never getting tired of their beauty. I was joined by others with the same desire and we decided to move our location to what we hoped was a better spot for viewing. We traveled down Ky. 18 for a few more miles till we pulled off to the side of the road. The Ohio River valley opened up before us with fertile farm land and rolling hills all around where raptors and vultures soared. And amongst them all were the 2 Kites. We were closer but not close enough for taking pictures. After a while Jon showed up from work and we were able to put him on the birds. They’re his favorites as well. This day was a sheer joy.
Notable birds for the afternoon include:
- Swallow-tailed Kites
- Red-shouldered hawk
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Broad-winged Hawk
- Sharp-shinned Hawk
- Black Vulture
- Turkey Vuture
- Common Crow
- Barn Swallow
- Bald Eagle