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My Life’s Birds: #87

April 23, 2008
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August 18, 1993 – McPherson, Ks – My grandmother still lives in the house in the house my dad grew up in on Hulse Street. Even as a kid he was somewhat aware of the birds in the neighborhood. I heard about the year the grosbeaks filled the elm in the front yard and the hummingbirds in the back garden. But it wasn’t until much later that we were made aware of the coolest bird in the neighborhood.

My grandmother has Mississippi Kites nesting in her backyard. Still does too, right to this day. They’re incredible to watch twist and turn over the park behind her house, deftly picking big Kansas lubber grasshoppers right out of the air over the softball field in the evenings should the hoppers make the mistake to leap away. They nested in the tree across the street and could easily be found there or perched on a power pole or lamp post and due to the fact that they were true townies, allowed close approach.

I suspect the same pair came back every year, because we would see them on every visit in the summer. They were often successful and sometimes in late summer, the fledglings from that year’s brood would join them to learn the family trade, leaving the unforgettable impression of 4 or even 5 Kites swirling around like ‘roided up swallows dining on katydids and grasshoppers on a hot late summer evening.

The only place I’ve ever seen the Kites regularly is in my grandmother’s yard. It reminds me that I need to get back there some time.

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2 Comments
  1. Greg permalink
    April 23, 2008 3:59 pm

    I believe that there were no kites in the neighborhood when I was growing up because of the summer city ritual of fogging the evening air with DDT. We’d be playing hide n seek or kick the can in the evening. The fogger would come by, we’d put a tree between it and us, and then as soon as it was past, we’d jump back into the pesticide drenched air!
    I’m heading for Busiek this evening!

  2. Jochen permalink
    April 25, 2008 3:22 am

    The circling Mississippi Kites above a suburb of St. Louis was a true highlight of my days at the Mississippi. Of course, being the tourist I am, I’d have loved to see them circling over the river itself, just for the punch line of seeing Mississippi Mississippi Kites, but too bad.
    I particularly enjoyed the colouration (contrast) and shape of their (spread) tail. Truly great birds, and if I were you, I’d visit your grandmother on a very regular basis. Tell her it’s because of her excellent food in case she’s wondering. All Grandmas like to hear that.

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