Spring is the time when the black and white raptors known as Swallow-Tailed Kites are most visible in our area as they move up from Florida. South Carolina is in the upper reaches of their breeding range, but since Lowcountry habitat is favorable to them their population trend is on the increase. The Center for Birds of Prey in Charleston is managing a Citizen Science Project that rely's on input from the public about sightings of the bird. Their long, scissor-like tail is what sets them apart from other birds and they can be a barometer for the health of surrounding bottomland hardwoods and grasslands since they won't frequent any areas that don't provide adequate nesting and foraging zones. So far in 2009 Lowcountryoutdoors.com has reported three sightings - all in Colleton County, which makes it a three year trend of seeing these birds just West of I-95. These magnificent looking birds that soar with ease are welcome to joint the flock of avian species that thrive in the coastal plain.
For past blog entries about kites click here.
Photo By Lynn Hackett and courtesy Tera Baird of USFWS: Swallow-Tailed Kite in flight