Tag Archives: Swallow-tailed Kite

Notes From The Field

Aurora Indiana, Oxbow, Lost Bridge

Following up on my own “Rare Bird Alert” concerning the Swallow-tailed Kite that has been seen almost every day since it was first reported was my objective today. From all reports the bird will perch and preen in the morning, and then take to the wing and go about  hunting for food. However time was of the essence as my youngest son turns 21 today and my daughter is in town for the weekend. So I picked up Jon at 6:30 am for the long drive. Which didn’t turn out a bad as I had originally thought. After you get to Lawrenceburg Indiana it’s just a few more miles on the other side. And since it seems like I live in this part of Ohio/Indiana for most of my birding days it was actually a nice drive.

From all the reports we’ve heard about the bird is that the morning is best to catch it while it perches in this dead tree, or catch it as it flies around this quiet, hilltop neighborhood. Some of the views of the surrounding countryside with it’s close proximity to the river and the valley below explains why the kite would love it here. Plenty of food and thermals to ride as they flowed up the sides of the surrounding hills that border the river.

Being a residential neighborhood we had to drive real slow along all the various roads that crisscrossed the area of a few hundred homes. We were both scanning the sky, but paying more attention to the trees for the sign of a semi-large bird. We passed the large dead tree that I thought was the one it’s been seen before perched, but no bird. We soldered on. The road forked and dead ended. Another road came in from a different direction that we took, that eventually brought us back to our original location. As we passed the dead tree again, but now from the opposite direction, I saw it.

Slowing the car down to a dead stop, Jon and myself craned our necks with our bins to our eyes to confirm the bird. We were real close to the bird. The tree was no more than 20 feet for the side of the road and we didn’t want to spook the bird as we got out of the car. So I inched forward so Jon could get out slowly, and I turned the car around and drove it down the road to pull off the side, so not spook the bird as I opened the hatch to retrieve my scope and camera.

The other 2 occasi0ons I’ve seen these birds they were in flight and it can be rather difficult to digiscope a bird in flight. So to catch one perched is a real treat. Enjoy!

IMG_2927 IMG_2919 As the sun was rising this was the best side to capture the bird with the sun in the best position. However as you can see this branch was covering part of it’s head. I couldn’t move to another location since it was on someones property and also we would have to get closer, which would have made the bird spook. So I stayed put and tried for some better shots as the Kite moved.


IMG_2945In this picture you can see how it’s been preening it’s breast feathers. He’s all fluffed up like a down pillow.

IMG_2951You have to admit that it is one beautiful bird. The kind of bird you’d want to come back reincarnated as.

IMG_2966As you can imagine I took quite a few pictures. And as much as I would like to bring them to you I feel these are the best. As the time wore on Jon and myself decided to leave. And since we were going to drive past the Oxbow, why not drive through for a quick look.

The Oxbow was full of the regular birds, and Oxbow Lake’s mudflat at the far end proved rather difficult to bush whack through the weeds and poison ivy to get to.

We faired better at Lost Bridge as small flocks of “Peeps” kept us busy for an hour or so. If I didn’t have other things to do today we would have stayed longer as hopes of more shorebirds coming in to feed was a good possibility. We left around lunch time.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Orchard Oriole
  2. Indigo Bunting
  3. Song Sparrow
  4. Turkey Vulture
  5. Double-creasted Cormorant
  6. Great Egret
  7. Great Blue Heron
  8. Wood Duck
  9. Green Heron
  10. Semipalmated sandpiper
  11. Least Sandpiper
  12. Spotted Sandpipper
  13. Lesser Yellowleg
  14. Pectoral Sandpiper
  15. Osprey
  16. Red-tailed hawk
  17. Belted Kingfisher
  18. Northern Flicker
  19. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  20. Northern Cardinal
  22. Horned Larks
  23. Cliff Swallow
  24. American Crow


Notes From the Field

Boone Conservancy Park

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:

  1. Swallow-tailed Kites
  2. Red-shouldered hawk
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Broad-winged Hawk
  5. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  6. Black Vulture
  7. Turkey Vuture
  8. Common Crow
  9. Barn Swallow
  10. Bald Eagle