Mississippi Kites over Columbia

For the past several days, a pair of Mississippi kites have appeared above our neighborhood in Columbia, Missouri.  Generally present during the morning and evening hours, these graceful, aerial hunters have been observed in the company of chimney swifts and common nighthawks, feasting on clouds of insects.

Perhaps they drifted north with the warm, humid air that arrived this week or they may be nesting in the area.  Though I have observed them in central Missouri in the past, I have never enjoyed their presence for an extended period of time nor have I observed them at such close range, strafing the treetops of our property in search of prey.

As veteran birders know, sightings of uncommon species often occur unexpectedly; indeed, such encounters account for a significant percentage of additions to our life list.  Of course, even chance sightings depend on active observation, whether they occur in our neighborhood, at local nature preserves or at wildlife refuges far from home.  Awareness of nature is not achieved through passive means.