NCWRC Photo courtesy of John Ennis

Earlier last month biologists with NC Wildlife Resources Commission confirmed what had long been suspected that Swallow Tailed Kites were nesting in the state.

“There have been many sightings of the swallow-tailed kite in this same vicinity for several years in the spring and summer so we strongly suspected that they were nesting, but we continued to consider them a ‘probable breeder’ because we lacked evidence of successful breeding,” said John Carpenter, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Commission. “Because swallow-tailed kites nest in remote swamps, it was difficult to find nests during previous surveys.”

If your like me you may of never heard of this bird before today so what is a Swallow Tailed Kite;

Swallow-tailed kites, one of nine hawk species found in North Carolina, are striking black-and-white birds with a deeply forked tail. They are skillful fliers, hunting from the air and swooping down on unsuspecting prey, which they then eat in mid-air.

Sound recording of Swallow Tailed Kite Cornell Lab of Ornithology

According to the National Audubon Society, the historic range of breeding swallow-tailed kites once spanned as far north as Minnesota and west through Texas. However, due to habitat loss, they now are found only in fragmented populations in bottomland forests along rivers from North Carolina down to Florida and west to the Louisiana/Texas border. Because they nest almost exclusively in large river swamps, in the tops of trees, biologists typically search for them using helicopters or other fixed-wing aircraft.

Interesting bird and a great find here in the state. While some might think that NCWRC is all about managing wildlife for hunting nothing could be further from the truth. There are a lot of critters that benefit from the work they do and it should be a concern when some lawmakers want to reduce their funding by 50%.

While the bird is not federally listed as endangered or threatened, it is listed as a priority species in North Carolina’s Wildlife Action Plan,which means it is a species that the Wildlife Commission has targeted for conservation actions that biologists hope would preclude the need for federal listing.

Here is a link to NCWRC Wildlife Action Plan.

Lots of diversity of species and habitat in this state and I hope you get out and see some of it.