Last October, a caring individual rescued an injured Mississippi Kite in the Corpus Christi area. The kite was brought to the Texas State Aquarium’s bird rehabilitation center for evaluation and treatment. Mississippi Kites are usually well on their way to South America by October, but this kite was obviously struggling. X-rays revealed a luxated shoulder and misshapen toes on his left foot. After the kite spent several months at the center, the vets made the determination that he was not releasable.
Houston Audubon’s Education Director, Mary Anne Weber, made contact with the staff and began the paperwork to transfer the kite to Houston. After all the permitting forms were signed and sent, Mary Anne made the trip to Corpus to pick up our new education ambassador. “Skeeter” now calls Houston home and has been busy engaging audiences both young and old across the region. He is only 8 months old and still sporting his juvenile plumage. When audiences are shown a photo of a Mississippi Kite as an adult, they are quite astonished at the plumage and eye color change that Skeeter will go through.
The first Mississippi Kite recorded for science was in 1806 outside of what is now Shreveport, Louisiana. Originally believed to be a type of falcon, it was several years later that the kite was correctly identified and classified. Mississippi Kites are often called “mosquito hawks” and that prompted us to give him the name “Skeeter”. Ornithologist and painter George Miksch Sutton once observed, “The square-tipped tail tilts this way and that as the bird directs its course with caution. So frequently does the kite hang in air as if suspended, or soar as if there were nothing in the world to do but soar, that we are surprised when we see it stoop, or descend with a roar of its wings upon its prey.”
You can meet Houston Audubon’s education ambassadors at libraries throughout the Houston area this summer. Watch the website for a complete schedule of presentations and watch the skies for our returning kites!