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Public Can Help Georgia's Swallow-tailed Kites

Swallow-tailed Kite.  Credit: Todd Schneider, GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division

Swallow-tailed Kite. Credit: Todd Schneider, GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division

 

Contact:
Tim Keyes, GA DNR tim.keyes@dnr.ga.gov

 

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are asking for birdwatchers, nature lovers, and everyday sky-gazers to lend a hand in the ongoing Swallow-tailed Kite Program. The range and population numbers of this stunning bird of prey declined greatly during the early 1900's. Biologists are now determining the status of the current kite population and their range. Georgia residents can help assess the number of Swallow-tailed Kites by watching for these striking, beautiful birds from March through September and reporting the observation.

A neo-tropical migrant, the Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) breeds in the southeastern U. S. during the summer, and winters in the tropics of Central and South America. Once common as far north as Illinois and Minnesota, the nesting grounds of the Swallow-tailed Kite now ranges only from Florida to South Carolina and west to Texas.

The bird is identified by starkly contrasting black and white plumage. The underside and head are white, while the back, tail, and wings are black. The wings are long, narrow and pointed, with a span of approximately four feet. The tail is deeply forked.

Swallow-tailed Kite.  Credit: Todd Schneider, GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division

Swallow-tailed Kite. Credit: Todd Schneider, GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division

Swallow-tailed Kites are commonly seen in wet areas, such as swamps, marshes, river bottoms, and open forests (fields, clear-cuts, and cutovers). Twig nests are often built at the tops of very tall trees. Kites roost and forage throughout Georgia, but breeding is restricted to the Coastal Plain.

DNR Swallow-tailed Kite Program Coordinator Tim Keyes can be contacted at tim.keyes@dnr.ga.gov

 


To submit on-line records of sightings go to: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/. Or send them to Tim Keyes at the email address below.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Nongame Plants & Animals.

 

Last updated: April 10, 2017