There is an incredible migration occurring now across the skies of East Texas.
Most are aware of the migration of waterfowl – teal, ducks and geese – each autumn through East Texas on their way to winter on the marshes and rich rice fields of coastal Texas. These waterfowl nest and summer in the Northern United States and Canada.
Common migrators to our area in the summer are the multiple species of hummingbirds coinciding with the development of rich nectar of our flowering plants and feeders. These hummers winter in the tropical areas of Central and South America.
This usually unnoticed migrant to East Texas that winters in South America but breeds and nests here is surprisingly the Mississippi Kite. The Mississippi Kite is a beautiful, falcon-like bird whose body is an overall gray color and whose head is a lighter ashy gray. It has a triangular, completely black tail, deep red eyes and in flight, this bird is smooth, swift and graceful.
Soon after the hatchlings leave the nest around the end of July, the magnificent Mississippi Kite is more noticeable soaring through our skies on the summer thermals. The presence of the Mississippi Kite in our area is timed with the hatches of the cicada and the dragonfly. This bird is one of the very few that can catch a Green Darner Dragonfly on the wing – a site to see. An indicator announcing the presence of the Mississippi Kite is the sound of the cicada.
Mississippi Kites are not solitary birds so it is common to see multiple birds soaring together. There are many sites in East Texas to view the Mississippi Kite in soaring flight; just look up. These birds will be riding the thermals back south of the Texas border by Labor Day. This wonderfully magnificent migration of the Mississippi Kite to East Texas is not coincidental but rather a perfectly timed event in Nature. Enjoy!