Mississippi Kites more aggressive than child's toy

  • Published
  • By Bob Farrell
  • Public Relations
Winter has passed, spring has sprung and school is almost out ... it's time to celebrate.
Fun is in the air ... or is it?
If what people see in the air is a Mississippi Kite, then fun can turn to fear in a hurry. For whatever reason, central Oklahoma is a great place for these birds to set up home during the summer (most probably a ready food source of insects or small mammals).
"Mississippi Kites winter in South America, migrating in groups of 20, 30 or much larger, usually arriving at their nesting sites from mid April to early May," said Mark Buthman, DynCorp environmental management. "Kites lay their eggs in late May through June, with both parents incubating the eggs and feeding their young. The eggs hatch in about 30 to 32 days, with the young able to fly and leave the nest 30 to 34 days later."
Like many other birds, Mississippi Kites occasionally come into conflict with people during the nesting season. Mississippi Kites are very protective of their young and may dive at animals and people that venture near their nests. This protective behavior is most common after young hatch, and increases if the intruder acts scared or harasses the diving bird. After the young leave the nest, the diving behavior ceases.
Mississippi Kites can be prevented from diving close by waving arms or by holding other objects like sticks over the head. The best way to stay safe is to avoid areas around Kite nests. If the nesting area cannot be avoided, wearing a hat should help prevent a Kite from striking.
Mississippi Kites are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state regulations, so removal of the adult Kite's young and nest is not legal without a special permit. Although Mississippi Kites are known to eat mice, frogs, lizards and small birds, the majority of their diet is composed of insects, especially grasshoppers. In this respect, they are very beneficial to man. The Kites have nested at Vance AFB for the past five years and increase in number each year.
Signs are posted on base to inform and warn residents that nesting birds are in the area. Base people are encouraged to heed these warnings to prevent any possible injury.
For further information about Mississippi Kites and actions taken by Vance Air Force Base to ensure personal safety, call Mr. Buthman at 7344.