Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 1 September 2013

1 September: Who stole the kites?

ImageYes, it’s getting hackneyed, but how can you resist taking (and using) pictures of the reliably wonderful sunrises at the tower?  All photos are copyright 1 September 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

Here we are in the middle of what should be the Mississippi Kite season, and the season’s total is just 119.  At this point last year, the total was 6,609.  Of course, 5,998 of those came in a two-day span (27-28 August), with an additional 590 the next day.  So, I guess if you take away that three-day flight, we’re 98 birds ahead!  But, I was really looking forward to a large flight of adult Mississippi Kites (I arrived last year after they had already gone through; I saw just one).  The Swallow-tailed Kite show has also been sub-par.  Last year at this point, 134 had been tallied, though 64 of those in the same three-day period as all of the Mississippis.  However, that still leaves 70 by subtracting that period, which is 50 more than we have this year.  Perhaps the Swallow-taileds and adult Mississippis went early this year; we had only one day of observation before 10 August.

Today saw a minor resurgence in the number of Eastern Kingbirds (87 compared to 51 yesterday, but 384 the day before that), but all other diurnally-moving passerines — other than swallows — were present in smaller numbers.  The 16 Yellow Warblers and seven Orchard Orioles do not compare to recent maxima of 99 and 81, respectively.  However, I did tally two Lark Sparrows, for a new high count for the season.  Woo-hoo.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  55

ImageThis juvenile (see shape of outer primaries and previous post on this topic) was one of a flock of 19 Eastern Kingbirds that flew right over the tower.

Late in the day after most, but not all, of the crowd had departed, I picked up something bright pink in my binocular way out over the NE motte and called out “Spoonbill.”  I got those remaining on the bird and pointed out that it must be an adult, as it was so very pink.  Until I realized that the bird was a bit globular, so found it in my scope:  a balloon.  Ah, ain’t the infallibility of the counter great?!  Perhaps I should have realized that it was drifting downwind at about wind speed.

The raptor flight was very similar to yesterday’s, with mostly distant birds high in a brutal blue sky.  However, thanks to Ashley for finding the first Northern Harrier of the season.  I managed to snag the first Peregrine Falcon of the season that started out a long way away, got a bit closer, then went farther away; not exactly stellar views for the crowd.

Raptors counted:

  • Northern Harrier – 1 (juvenile)
  • Mississippi Kite – 2
  • Cooper’s Hawk – 4
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 34
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 22
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1 (juvenile)
  • Total – 64

Seasonal totals raptor species counted:

  • Osprey – 5
  • Northern Harrier – 1
  • Swallow-tailed Kite – 20
  • Mississippi Kite – 119
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
  • Cooper’s Hawk 22
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 237
  • Swainson’s Hawk – 171
  • White-tailed Hawk – 6
  • American Kestrel – 3
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1
  • Total – 586

Today’s eBird checklist

The Bird of the Day was the Selasphorus hummingbird that showed up mid-morning, visited the upper feeder a few times, and was not seen again.  However, I did get good pictures of it in hopes of identifying it to species.  I got the needed shot — the spread tail — but, to me, the bird’s tail is somewhat equivocal.  The r2 (second rectrix) is not shaped like that of a Rufous Hummer, but the r5 is not shaped like that of an Allen’s.  So, I have sent the pix out for expert review and will let you know what comes of the process.  Meanwhile, you can see what the experts got.



  1. Almost certainly NOT an Allen’s. This bird is either a young male or a female Rufous because the individual rectrices are simply too wide and too rounded for it to be an Allen’s. I lean towards an identification of female, but cannot be 100% sure. On an Allen’s of any age and sex, the tail will appear to be sharply pointed as if it were sharpened in a pencil sharpener! At this time of year, many young male Rufous and all female Rufous have green backs.

  2. The hummer is potentially awesome but the balloon is a bust:-)

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