Ictinia mississippiensis - (Wilson, 1811)
Mississippi Kite
Other English Common Names: Mississippi kite
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ictinia mississippiensis (Wilson, 1811) (TSN 554268)
French Common Names: Milan du Mississippi
Spanish Common Names: Milano de Misisipi, Milano Boreal
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104468
Element Code: ABNKC09010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 10863

© Michael Patrikeev

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae Ictinia
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ictinia mississippiensis
Taxonomic Comments: Considered conspecific with Icteria Plumbea by some authors (AOU 1983).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 22Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Not globally threatened and population has made comeback since the early 1900's.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4), Arizona (S3), Arkansas (S5B), Colorado (S1S2B), Florida (S3S4B), Georgia (S3S4), Illinois (S2S3), Indiana (S1B), Kansas (S4B), Kentucky (S2B), Louisiana (S5B), Mississippi (S4B), Missouri (S3), Navajo Nation (SNR), Nebraska (S1B), New Jersey (S4N), New Mexico (S2B,S3N), North Carolina (S3B), Oklahoma (S5B), South Carolina (S4), Tennessee (S2S3), Texas (S4B), Virginia (S2B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: southern Arizona, central New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, north-central Kansas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northwestern Mississippi, the coastal plain of the Gulf states, South Carolina and (probably) North Carolina south to southern New Mexico, Texas, the Gulf coast, and north-central Florida, the range expanding along its borders in recent years; formerly bred north to central Colorado and Iowa (AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: apparently mostly in central South America, where recorded from Paraguay and northern Argentina; scattered sight reports suggest casual or occassional wintering north as far as southern Texas and Florida, but the vast majority lack documentation (AOU 1998). MIGRATES: regularly from Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Chiapas (casually west to Baja California) south through Middle America, Colombia, and Bolivia (AOU 1998). Casual straggler north to northern California, southern Nevada, northern Colorado, northern Wyoming, southern Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Nova Scotia; sight report for Maine (AOU 1998).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Birdlife International (2014) estimates the extent of the breeding range to be 825,000 square kilometers, with home ranges ranging from 250 hectares to 1000 hectares per nesting pair (Parker, 1999).

Number of Occurrences: 21 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This is an estimate based on known populations in six U.S. states in the periphery of the Mississippi Kite's range and assumption of at least 15 element occurrences in the larger populatioin concentrations for this species in the Great Plains and most southeastern states (Parker, 1999).

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: A count of Mississippi Kites in 1998 at Veracruz, Mexico came up with an estimated 186,000 individuals during fall migration and believed to be 79 - 90% of the U.S. population (Parker 1999).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to very many (13 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: An estimate estimate assuming number of "good" EOs is less than number of total EOs

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Most raptor populations in North America have decreased in abundance since the last century as a result of persecution (e.g., shooting), habitat loss, and pesticides. Mississippi Kite, however, may benefit from habitat fragmentation. Love et al. (1985) noted that the mosaic distribution of land-use types may influence the use of windbreak forests in the south central plains of North America. The resulting vegetation patchiness may enhance foraging success and reproduction (Glinski and Ohmart 1983). Increase in local populations of the eastern breeding range became evident in the 1950s. Parker and Ogden (1979) suggested that logging in the East could have disrupted nesting, but has more likely had a positive effect by providing cultivated areas where foraging opportunities are improved for kites. Riparian habitats that historically were the primary support of the kite are disappearing at an alarming rate. Loss of riparian habitat in the Great Plains, for example, has had minimal effect due to the availability of alternate nest sites in shelterbelts and urban areas. Parker and Ogden (1979) note that removal of large numbers of shelterbelts would disturb kite nesting groups. The loss of lowland and floodplain forests in the Southeast, however, could limit the population. It remains unclear if kites will begin using upland and second growth habitat or urban sites in sufficient numbers to increase or maintain present populations (Meyer 1990). Impacts of forest clearing in South America are unknown but may be beneficial. Eggshell thinning caused by chlorinated hydrocarbons was not found to be a significant factor contributing to population declines (Parker 1976). Pesticides, however, can be a threat as noted in Oklahoma where several birds died after ingesting insects sprayed with parathion (Franson 1994). Parker (1988) reports the following as being confirmed and probable nest predators: fox squirrel (SCIURUS NIGER), raccoon (PROCYON LOTOR), bobcat (FELIS RUFUS), American Crow (CORVUS BRACHYRHYNCHOS), Swainson's Hawk (BUTEO SWAINSONI), and Great Horned Owl (BUBO VIRGINIANUS). Several species of snakes and a number of other birds and mammals probably take kite eggs and/or nestlings (Parker 1988). Persecution continues to be a possible threat especially for aggressive birds in urban area. Increased public education should eliminate this threat.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: See Glinski and Gennaro (1988) for a discussion of recent increase and status in southwestern U.S. BBS data from 1980-2000 indicate a non-significant annual population decline (-1.0%) throughout its range (Sauer et al. 2001). Parker and Ogden (1979) offer that there is no apparent reason why populations should not continue to increase in both the East and West. Suitable nesting habitat is available in both regions and nesting kites easily tolerate human disturbance. However, in areas where nesting habitat is very localized, disturbance may have drastic long-term impact in that entire region.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to increase of <25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Although nest site selection in the Southeast has changed little in the past century, density and distribution of this kite has been affected by human activity. The early 1900's produced declines in densities in most areas of the Mississippi Valley and the southeastern states (Parker and Ogden 1979). Declines have been attributed to shooting, egg collecting, or habitat alteration. These attributes also occurred in the Great Plains; however, the West was less impacted because of smaller human populations. See Palmer (1988) for a review of historical and present status.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable to not intrinsically vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Original decline in the 1900's was due to logging so degradation and fragmentation of habitat is still a threat but seems to have adapted to urban woodlands (Parker, 1999).

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Has adapted to human-altered environments but woodlands still a necessity probably

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Better inventory of population size over it entire range would help prioritize the conservation needs of this species relative to other species

Protection Needs: Protect areas around nesting sites. Also may need education program in urbanized areas where this bird may nest to let the general public know about potential of diving kites if an approach to the nest is too close (Parker, 1999).

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: southern Arizona, central New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, north-central Kansas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northwestern Mississippi, the coastal plain of the Gulf states, South Carolina and (probably) North Carolina south to southern New Mexico, Texas, the Gulf coast, and north-central Florida, the range expanding along its borders in recent years; formerly bred north to central Colorado and Iowa (AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: apparently mostly in central South America, where recorded from Paraguay and northern Argentina; scattered sight reports suggest casual or occassional wintering north as far as southern Texas and Florida, but the vast majority lack documentation (AOU 1998). MIGRATES: regularly from Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Chiapas (casually west to Baja California) south through Middle America, Colombia, and Bolivia (AOU 1998). Casual straggler north to northern California, southern Nevada, northern Colorado, northern Wyoming, southern Saskatchewan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Nova Scotia; sight report for Maine (AOU 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NN, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; NatureServe, 2005


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Baldwin (01003), Clarke (01025), Geneva (01061)
AZ Cochise (04003), Pinal (04021)
IL Adams (17001)*, Alexander (17003), Calhoun (17013), Jackson (17077), Jersey (17083)*, Johnson (17087), Madison (17119), Massac (17127)*, Monroe (17133)*, Pike (17149), Pulaski (17153), Randolph (17157)*, Union (17181), Winnebago (17201)
IN Pike (18125), Posey (18129), Spencer (18147), Warrick (18173)
KY Ballard (21007), Carlisle (21039), Fulton (21075), Graves (21083), Hickman (21105), McCracken (21145), Union (21225)
MO Boone (29019), Cape Girardeau (29031), Dunklin (29069), Mississippi (29133), New Madrid (29143), Pemiscot (29155), Perry (29157), Pike (29163), Scott (29201), St. Louis (29189), Stoddard (29207), Wayne (29223)
NE Dawes (31045), Keith (31101)
NM Bernalillo (35001), Chaves (35005), Curry (35009), Eddy (35015), Lea (35025), Roosevelt (35041)
SC Charleston (45019), Colleton (45029), Hampton (45049), Sumter (45085)
TN Dyer (47045), Gibson (47053), Lake (47095), Lauderdale (47097), Obion (47131), Shelby (47157), Tipton (47167), Weakley (47183)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Wateree (03050104)+, Cooper (03050201)+, Salkehatchie (03050207)+, Lower Savannah (03060109)+, Upper Choctawhatchee (03140201)+, Pea (03140202)+, Lower Alabama (03150204)+
05 Patoka (05120209)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+, Lower Ohio (05140206)+
07 Lower Rock (07090005)+, Bear-Wyaconda (07110001)+*, The Sny (07110004)+, Lower Illinois (07130011)+*, Cahokia-Joachim (07140101)+, Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+, Big Muddy (07140106)+, Cache (07140108)+, Lower Kaskaskia (07140204)+*
08 Lower Mississippi-Memphis (08010100)+, Bayou De Chien-Mayfield (08010201)+, Obion (08010202)+, South Fork Obion (08010203)+, Forked Deer (08010206)+*, Lower Hatchie (08010208)+, Loosahatchie (08010209)+*, Wolf (08010210)+, Horn Lake-Nonconnah (08010211)+, New Madrid-St. Johns (08020201)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Little River Ditches (08020204)+
10 Upper White (10140201)+, Lower South Platte (10190018)+, Lower Missouri-Moreau (10300102)+
12 Yellow House Draw (12050001)+, Blackwater Draw (12050002)+, Monument-Seminole Draws (12080003)+
13 Rio Grande-Albuquerque (13020203)+, Upper Pecos-Long Arroyo (13060007)+, Rio Hondo (13060008)+
15 Middle Gila (15050100)+, Upper San Pedro (15050202)+, Lower San Pedro (15050203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A bird (kite).
General Description: ADULT MALE: A small kite; generally appears more falcon-like than hawk-like. The head, hind-neck, and secondaries are pale ashy gray and are white-tipped. The mantle is dark, slaty, ashy, gray becoming more black at the bend of the wing; the upper back blending with the paler hind-neck. The tail is almost always squarish to rarely slightly forked; tail and primaries are slaty blackish color. The inner primaries often have a pale rufous area on the outer web and spots of similar color on the inner web. Lores and the area around the eyes are black. Underparts are light gray, but not as pale as the crown and throat. Eyes are deep red. The bill, cere, eyelids, and interior of the mouth are deep black; corner of mouth orange-red. Legs are a variable salmon-orange-red, rarely to yellow; basal phalanges of inner toe are fused to form a single functional unit. Average measurements: wing 286-305 mm; tail 149-172 mm; tarsus 35-41 mm; weight 216-269 g.

ADULT FEMALE: Sexes similar; female being larger with a darker gray head compared to the male. Average measurements: wing 300-315 mm; weight 278-339 g.

JUVENILE: Generally dark brown to blackish above. Head, neck, and ventral body is heavily streaked; secondaries are not lighter than primaries. On the tail feathers, the white areas on the inner webs are extensive and from two to three broad transverse bars. Eyes dark brown; bill bluish-gray; cere, corners of mouth, and legs yellowish-orange to orange.

IMMATURE: The body plumage is similar to the adult with the juvenile wing, tail quills, and a variable number of contour feathers retained. The mixture of adult and juvenile plumage creates a white spotted effect. Eyes may be less red than the adult; bill black; cere and legs may be more yellowish.

HATCHLING: White and downy with black eye-ring and lores. Beak blackish, cere and rictus vivid to pale yellow. Eye dark brown. Legs usually orange-yellow.

EGGS: white.

See also Johnsgard (1990), Parker (1988), National Geographic Society (1987), Terres (1980), Harrison (1975), Brown and Amadon (1968).

Diagnostic Characteristics: No other raptor can be confused with the "adult" kite (Parker 1988). Juvenile birds are likely to be mistaken for young of other species (e.g., Broad-winged hawk (BUTEO PLATYPTERUS), peregrine falcon (FALCO PEREGRINUS)). Wing and tail shapes are key distinguishing features. In flight, the wings are pointed with the leading primary relatively short and from a distance can be confused with a peregrine falcon. The uniformly black tail readily distinguishes this raptor from any other. Very similar in appearance to the Plumbeous Kite (I. PLUMBEA); where ranges overlap, sight identification becomes difficult.
Reproduction Comments: Nest preparation begins in early to mid-May, but birds may build new or add to old nests during June and early July (Parker 1988). Single brooded, clutch size one to two (usually two, rarely three). Incubation 29-31 days (also reported as 32 days), by both sexes. Young tended by both parents, climb out of nest to adjacent branches at 15-18 days, can fly at 34 days, rely on adults for several weeks thereafter (Parker 1988, Brown and Amadon 1968). Studies in the Great Plains, Arizona, and Illinois found about 50% of nests fledged young (Palmer 1988). Yearlings may breed or help at nest. Often a gregarious nester. Productivity very high in some suburban settings (e.g., golf courses), which provide protection from predators (Glinski and Gennaro 1988, Gennaro 1988).

Nests are found in groups sometimes referred to as colonies. There are no home range data in literature (Kalla and Alsop 1983), however home range has recently been studied by the University of Missouri. Glinski and Ohmart (1983) state that territory size consisted of a space within 50 to 100 meters from an active nest. Parker (pers. comm.), however, questions this claim stating that he has never seen clear territorial behavior in these kites. Glinski and Ohmart (1983) also noted that nests within their study groups were spaced from 125 to 1,700 meters. Adult kites seldom fail to pair and attempt nesting (Glinski and Ohmart 1983, Parker 1988).

Ecology Comments: Forages or perches alone and in small to large flocks (Parker 1988). Usually forages within 0.5 kilometers of nest; sometimes up to several kilometers.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Arrives in southern U.S. late March or early to mid-April (on nesting areas in New Mexico by mid-May, Gennaro 1988); southward migration in U.S. mainly late August-September (see Palmer [1988] for additional details). Apparently entire population migrates through Middle America (no West Indies records) (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989). In Costa Rica, migrating flocks seen sporatically late March-early May and mid-September to mid-October (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Migrating groups of up to several hundred.
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Tall forest, open woodland, prairie, semiarid rangeland, shelterbelts, wooded areas bordering lakes and streams in more open regions, scrubby oaks and mesquite, and lowland/floodplain forests. Requires open areas near nesting sites for foraging. More specific breeding habitat components vary by region (Great Plains and Southeastern U.S.). Nests in fork or crotch of tree, high up where possible but sometimes low in scrubby trees (Harrison 1978). May sometimes nest in stands of mature trees in towns. Most nests placed in non-conifer near woodland edge. Often reuses old kite nest.

Historically, in the Great Plains was associated with areas having sizable riparian woodlands along major river systems. Kite numbers increased during the 1950's and 60's as the birds began using shelterbelts (tree plantings designed for windbreaks and to impede soil erosion) as nest sites (Johnsgard 1990, Meyer 1990, Bolen and Flores 1989, Parker and Ogden 1979). The increase of mesquite thickets, associated with cattle raising and farming, has also offered new nesting areas, as have farm woodlots and shade trees in towns. This increase in nesting habitat has created a more uniform regional distribution of nesting kites in the Great Plains (Parker 1988, Parker and Ogden 1979).

In contrast, nest site selection in the Southeast has not changed as a result of habitat alteration to the extent that it has in the Midwest (Parker 1988, Parker and Ogden 1979). Nests in the Southeast are most commonly found in mature, undisturbed stands of lowland and floodplain forests and along major rivers and feed over adjacent fields (Hamel et al. 1982, Hamel 1993, Parker 1988).

NON-BREEDING: Little is known of migration and wintering habits (Johnsgard 1990, Parker 1988, Glinski and Ohmart 1983, Parker and Ogden 1979). Because it prefers to forage over open and edge habitats, agricultural expansion and forest removal in Central and South America may increase foraging habitat and prey populations there, as has happened in North America (Parker 1988, Parker and Ogden 1979).

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly large insects caught in flight (also small birds and in some areas, bats); also drops to ground on mice, insects, small reptiles, frogs. Also hawks from perch, obtaining prey from air or foliage. Largely dependent on large flying insects which are taken in the air, especially cicadas and grasshoppers; katydids and dragonflies (Parker 1988). They do sometimes resort to other foods, occasionally scavenging road-killed vertebrates and periodically killing small birds, reptiles and amphibians (Hamel et al. 1993, 1982).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Phenology Comments: Some crepuscular activity.
Length: 37 centimeters
Weight: 314 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Through the past century, raptor densities have been decreasing due to persecution (e.g., shooting), habitat loss, and pesticides. However, since the 1950's and 60's, the Mississippi Kite has demonstrated increased population size and distribution. This species seeks forested habitats with open foraging areas and has demonstrated the ability to adapt successfully to habitat changes. In order to maintain or increase its distribution and size, an understanding of its historic and current habitat requirements for breeding, migrating and wintering ranges is needed. Three major management needs are identified: 1) increased efforts to determine impacts from habitat change and disturbance, especially in migration and winter ranges; 2) improved techniques for assessing and monitoring populations; and 3) improved techniques for maintaining and increasing populations in the Southeast and peripheral areas (Tennessee, Illinois, North Carolina, Arizona).
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Kalla and Alsop (1983) found that kites in Tennessee did not nest in small woodlands, even though suitable foraging habitat and active nest sites were near. Parker and Ogden (1979) found in the Midwest, narrow riparian woodlands and small stands of trees in urban surroundings were suitable nest sites in the Midwest. These findings, along with the historic habitat change, suggest the need to manage lands while considering regional differences in habitat preference. Southeastern areas should consider continuous riparian forests, while Great Plains areas should consider riparian and other woodlands within open habitats. Love et al. (1985) suggest that landscapes with mosaic distribution may influence use of shelterbelts by nesting kites. The inherent edge effect created by shelterbelts provide both nesting and foraging habitats.
Management Requirements: Information currently available suggests that management requirements vary by region. Great Plains areas should focus management on forested areas (e.g., shelterbelts, towns) that meet the needs of this kite. Glinski and Ohmart (1983) suggest that heterogeneous communities may offer better foraging habitat than homogeneous areas such as crop monocultures. They suggest that the increased habitat diversity in the Great Plains is a likely contributor to population increases and expanded ranges. Eastern regions should focus on management of mature lowland or floodplain forests, especially areas with tall, mature trees (Meyer 1990, Kalla and Alsop 1983).

Parker (pers. comm.) believes that western populations will not need any management attention;. He states that eastern areas should protect old-growth bottomland forests and/or attempt to establish populations in second growth woodlands (similar to western populations). Parker also notes that in areas of Southwestern semi-desert, where kites have not begun to use urban areas (e.g., Arizona), emphasis should be placed on maintaining riparian nesting habitat.

Management for specific tree species is not considered an important factor. Specific tree selection is believed to be a function of availability and abundance rather than preference (Johnsgard 1990).

Human and vehicular traffic does not dissuade kites from nesting in urban sites (Bolen and Flores 1990). Managing for aggressive birds in urban situations must be considered. Human attacks by diving birds near nest sites have occurred often enough to produce negative public responses (Bolen and Flores 1990, Meyer 1990, Gennaro 1988, Parker and Ogden 1979). Public education should be the primary method of intervention. Parker (1980) offers specific education ideas: 1) avoiding nests during incubation and through fledging (mid-June through mid-August); 2) wear a hat near nests, especially a tall-crowned hat, because kites always appear to aim at the highest point; 3) wave something in front of the kite when it is diving, making it pull out of its dive sooner; 4) directly facing the kite also intimidates it during a dive.

In severe situations diving birds cannot be accepted or tolerated by local citizens. In these cases nests could be destroyed and nestlings could be donated to foster parent kites elsewhere (this practice is illegal without a special permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Parker (1988) found that when this method was used, diving ceased, no kites were destroyed, and the offending pair were discouraged from renesting as though a natural predator had intervened (Parker 1988). Placement of life-sized kite models in natural or artificial nests prior to arrival of kites in spring was effective in diverting kites from selected areas (Gennaro 1988). Gennaro (1988) also found that removing eggs from nests of aggressive kites only shows initial success. Nesting pairs were found to renest and continue to display the aggressive behavior.

Monitoring Requirements: Has been recorded as increasing in both numbers and distribution (Parker and Ogden 1979). Because of these increases, monitoring should focus on current and potential nesting sites. Parker and Ogden (1979) note that despite their size and conspicuous flocks, kites can be difficult to detect. They feed at a distance from their nests and rapidly reenter the nesting area. Also, kites perch inconspicuously for hours in solitary or communal roosts. Casual observations may easily miss them, especially in forested areas of the Southeast.
Management Research Needs: Given that large numbers of towns have become nesting areas for this kite, management practices should consider the aggressive nature of this bird during late nesting seasons. Methods of compromise between nesting kites and public relations must be better addressed (Meyer 1990, Gennaro 1988, Parker 1986). More specific management needs could be determined from further life history studies.
Biological Research Needs: Previous research (Parker 1986, 1988, Glinski and Ohmart 1983, Kalla and Alsop 1983) has focused on local populations (primarily in the Great Plains) or given historic reviews. Additional research on migration patterns and techniques for monitoring kite populations in the Southeast is needed to better understand habitat requirements and regional density changes (Meyer 1990, Glinski and Ohmart 1983, Parker 1980). The effects of group size and site fidelity on nesting productivity in the Southeast would illuminate specific management needs (Meyer 1990). Research on home range is also needed (Kalla and Alsop 1983).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Hawks and Falcons

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Feeding Area, Nest Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Mapping Guidance: If nest site is separated from feeding area by more than 100 meters, map as separate polygons.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance a compromise between usually relatively small home ranges and obvious mobility of these birds. Home ranges variable, ranging from about 0.5 to about 90 square kilometers; the latter figure refers to nests where birds commuted some distance to feeding grounds. A number of studies give mean home ranges on the order of 7 square kilometers, which equates to a circle with a diameter of about 3 kilometers; three times that home range gives a separation distance of about 10 kilometers. Home ranges: Ferruginous Hawk, mean 5.9 square kilometers in Utah (Smith and Murphy 1973); range 2.4 to 21.7 square kilometers, mean 7.0 square kilometers in Idaho (Olendorff 1993); mean 7.6 square kilometers in Idaho (McAnnis 1990); mean 90 square kilometers in Washington (Leary et al. 1998); Red-tailed Hawk, most forage within 3 kilometers of nest (Kochert 1986); mean spring and summer male home ranges 148 hectares (Petersen 1979); Hawaiian Hawk, 48 to 608 hectares (n = 16; Clarkson and Laniawe 2000); Zone-tailed Hawk, little information, apparent home range 1-2 kilometers/pair in west Texas (Johnson et al. 2000); White tailed Kite, rarely hunts more than 0.8 kilometers from nest (Hawbecker 1942); Prairie Falcon, 26 square kilometers in Wyoming (Craighead and Craighead 1956), 59 to 314 square kilometers (reported by Steenhof 1998); Aplomado Falcon, 2.6 to 9.0 square kilometers (n = 5, Hector 1988), 3.3 to 21.4 square kilometers (n = 10, Montoya et al. 1997). Nest site fidelity: high in Zone-tailed Hawk; all seven west Texas nesting territories occupied in 1975 were reused in 1976 (Matteson and Riley 1981). Swainson's Hawk: In California, dispersal distances from natal sites to subsequent breeding sites ranged from 0 to 18 kilometers, mean 8.8 kilometers (Woodbridge et al. 1995); in contrast, none of 697 nestlings in Saskatchewan returned to the study area; three were found 190, 200 and 310 kilometers away (Houston and Schmutz 1995).
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Foraging range variable; 3 kilometers is the mean diameter in several species.
Date: 13Mar2001
Author: Cannings, S.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging area, Roosting area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering birds (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, usually minimally a reliable observation of 5 birds (this can be reduced to 1 individual for rarer species). Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. However, occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 15Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Mar2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jue, Dean K.
Management Information Edition Date: 30Jun1993
Management Information Edition Author: ZELLER, N.S.; REVISIONS BY G. HAMMERSON, M. KOENEN, AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: An earlier draft of this abstract was sent to James W. Parker, Aerie East Environmental Education Programs, Farmington, Maine. As the foremost expert on the Mississippi Kite, his suggestions, clarifications, and new information were greatly appreciated. A draft was also sent to Harry LeGrand, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program;, his comments and suggestions were appreciated. Thanks to Bruce Peterjohn, USFWS, Office of Migratory Bird Management, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, for BBS data and to all the volunteers who help generate that data year after year. Thanks to Heritage biologists who responded to the ESA questionnaire. Alabama - Mark Bailey; Arizona - Dale Ward; Arizona - Cindy Osborne; Colorado - Katie Pague; Florida - Dale Jackson; Georgia - Greg Krakow; Illinois - Vernon Kleen and Susan Dees; Kansas - Bill Busby; Kentucky - Brainard Palmer-Ball; Louisiana - Bill Vermillion; Mississippi - Tom Mann; Missouri - Jim Wilson; New Mexico - David Mehlman; North Carolina - Harry LeGrand; Oklahoma - Mark V. Lomolino; South Carolina - Katherine Boyle and Lex Glover; Tennessee - Andrea Shea. Thanks to Rex Sallabanks, North Carolina State University for his assistance in starting this project. Also thanks to the North Carolina State University, D.H. Hill Library staff, especially the Interlibrary Loan Office, for all their assistance in locating resources.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Dec1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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