The last time I saw a Mississippi Kite was way up in Root, New York, back in 2009. There was a pair that were believed to be breeding and the following year successful breeding was confirmed, the first record of the species breeding in New York State. Many New York birders made the pilgrimage to Montgomery County that year and managed to check Mississippi Kite off of their state checklists. Considering those birds, and the spate of reports from surrounding states, and you can understand why it wasn’t terribly surprising to hear of another pair discovered in New York. What was surprising, however, was the location – outside the visitor center of Sterling Forest State Park, a location that attracts birders this time of year in great numbers because it is the last downstate breeding stronghold for Golden-winged Warblers. It is as if the kites chose the spot in order to be discovered by birders.

Now, just because I had seen Mississippi Kites in New York before didn’t mean that I didn’t want to see them again. After all, Ictinia mississippiensis is one cool bird and three years is really too long to have gone without seeing one. Fortunately, Sterling Forest is only about forty minutes from my office in northern New Jersey so I just left for work a couple of hours early yesterday morning and made my way to the Sterling Forest visitor center and looked in the direction that I saw several scopes, binoculars, and cameras pointing. It was a very easy twitch.

In the hour-and-a-half or so I spent with the birds they hunted for dragonflies, preened, vocalized, flew to their (presumed) nest site, picked up a couple of sticks, soared around, and basically acted like Mississippi Kites. So, yeah, pretty darn awesome. The only thing I didn’t see them do was mate but, fortunately, Felipe Pimentel saw them do that on Monday and kindly agreed to share the shot that he got. Bird porn!

Mississippi Kites mating by Felipe Pimentel

It seems likely that this will be the second location with breeding Mississippi Kites in New York State and I, for one, welcome this awesome addition to our avifauna. Now if we could only get some breeding Scissor-tailed Kites

The images in this post were either digiscoped or shot with my fancy new Canon lens. I hope you enjoy them!

Nate also had some good shots of Mississippi Kites in North Carolina recently.

I hope you liked these shots of Mississippi Kites.  If you want to see more great images of birds check out our big and growing page of photo galleries, 10,000 Clicks!

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.