The Graceful, Predatory Kite
The kite bird is a small hawklike bird found in many parts of the world, including the United States, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. The birds live primarily in woods and marshes and eat snakes, insects, small mammals, and snails.
One of the kite species found in the southern United States is the swallow-tailed kite. It has a deeply forked tail and black and white feathers. There is also the Mississippi kite which sports dark gray feathers and a black tale, the white-tailed kite which has pale gray and white on its tail, underparts and head. The Everglade, also known as the snail kite is a dark gray and has red legs. The female Everglade is buff colored with brown streaks. There is also a black-shouldered kite which is also found in many places throughout the world.
The kite is a type of raptor, who along with eagles and hawks, are birds of prey. This means they hunt live mammals, although the kite is content to eat insects, too. Kites are incredibly graceful when flying and in fact, the word kite describing the flying object takes its name from theirs.
Kite Traits And Appearance
Most kites share several traits. They all seem to have very weak legs, which is why they are aloft so much of the time. They also have very small heads and short beaks. They typically have narrow tails and wings, and their wings are usually split and appear to be streaming behind them when they fly.
When in flight, the kite will usually flap just once and then glide for a while before they flap their wings again to stay up. When the kites are gliding, they tuck their wings in behind them to create as little air resistance as possible. This creates the illusion that the birds are floating through the air. Kites are diurnal which means they are just as active at night as during the day.
Kite Breeding Habits
Depending upon the species of kite, breeding habits vary. Parents typically both care for the young, although the female will usually do most of the brooding. Parents teach the young how to seek out food and fly, but they will not force the young birds out for several months after birth. Kites are hoarders, which is an interesting fact. They will collect many items as they travel and then bring them back to their nests where they will add them to their collection. This can result in a very interesting nest which may include such items as keys and plastic bags.
Kites are very flexible eaters which helps to sustain the worldwide population of the birds. These birds are such easy keepers that they can be found scavenging just about anywhere, from dumpster bins to the open range. They are not hunted by humans, so they are not endangered like some of the other raptor species. One problem they do face however, is the disappearance of their habitat, which if not stopped or controlled could wreak havoc on the worldwide kite population. These are incredibly beautiful and graceful birds, so it would be a real loss if they disappeared.