Mississippi kite

COMMON NAME: Mississippi kite

Lobelia mississippiensis


The Mississippi kite is a falcon-like bird. Its body is gray and its head is a lighter ashy gray. It has a black tail, red eyes, and yellowish, red legs. The bird has a smooth, graceful flight. Mississippi kites are social and non-territorial.


Mississippi kites are migratory. They winter in central South America, but may occur casually as far north as southern Texas. In the spring, they often migrate in groups of 20 to 30 to their nesting sites in the Southeast, west to Arizona, southeastern Colorado, southern Kansas, and southern Missouri.


Mississippi kites prefer tall trees near water in open woodlands, savannahs, and rangelands during breeding season.


Mississippi kites generally begin nesting soon after their arrival on their breeding grounds. They will nest in old nests or construct new ones. They breed in late May or early June. Both sexes incubate the clutch of two eggs until they hatch 31 to 32 days later. Kites will dive at animals and people that venture too close to their nests. Mississippi kites have also been known to build nests in urban areas.


Mississippi kites are insect eaters. They prefer grasshoppers, cicadas, dragonflies, and other insects that they at times catch and consume in midair. They have been known to fly about cattle and horses to catch insects stirred up from the grass. They occasionally feed on small snakes, lizards, frogs, and birds.

Populations appear to be increasing; they are afforded no special conservation status.