Kites, Harriers & Osprey

Kites, Harriers & Osprey

Species In This Category

About Kites, Harriers & Osprey

About Kites

Kite is a name for any of numerous birds of prey belonging to one of three subfamilies (Milvinae, Elaninae, Perninae) of the family Accipitridae. Typically, a kite is lightly built, with a small head, partly bare face, short beak, and long narrow wings and tail. Kites occur worldwide in warm regions. Some kites live on insects; others are primarily scavengers but also eat rodents and reptiles; and a few are strictly snaileaters. Kites are buoyant in flight, slowly flapping and gliding with wings angled back. (1)

  1. Source: Athena Ferreira, Kite - bird, The Encyclopedia Britannica, Accessed January 8, 2016. Details here

Kite Facts

  1. There are five types of kites living in North America. All five species are found in the southern states and also in Mexico. These smaller sized raptors acquire their names because of their ability to use the wind currents to their advantage as they soar in hunt of prey. (1)
  2. On the East Coast, the Mississippi Kite first extended its known nesting territory from South Carolina into North Carolina in the 1970s and has steadily expanded its presence in that state ever since, especially the southeastern corner. In the summer of 1996, two adults skipped north over northeastern North Carolina and most of Virginia to establish the first known nesting site of the species in the Commonwealth in a suburban backyard in Woodbridge, Virginia, less than two dozen miles from Washington, D.C. (2)

Kite Sources

  1. Source: Kites, Birds of North America, Accessed January 8, 2016. Details here
  2. Source: Nothing to do but Soar? How did Mississippi Kites Get Where They Are Today?, All About Birds, Cornell University, Accessed January 8, 2016. Details here

About Harriers

A harrier is any of the several species of diurnal hawks forming the Circinae sub-family of the Accipitridae family of birds of prey. Harriers characteristically hunt by flying low over open ground, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, or birds. The young of the species are sometimes referred to as ring-tail harriers because most of the time their species is unrecognizable.

Harrier Facts

  1. Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead and Burton in Raptors of the World identify 17 species of harriers in the genus Circus.
  2. BirdLife International recognizes an additional species the Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) normally considered a subspecies of the Hen Harrier. (2)

Harrier Sources

  1. Source: Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead, and Burton. Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm, 1999. ISBN 0-7136-8026-1.
  2. Source: Northern Harrier, BirdLife International, Accessed January 8, 2015. Details here

About Osprey

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large raptor, brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts. The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

Osprey Facts

  1. The Osprey differs in several respects from other diurnal birds of prey. Its toes are of equal length, its tarsi are reticulate, and its talons are rounded, rather than grooved. The Osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when they grab slippery fish. (1)
  2. The Osprey has always presented something of a riddle to taxonomists, but here it is treated as the sole living member of the family Pandionidae, and the family listed in its traditional place as part of the order Falconiformes.(2)

Osprey Sources

  1. Source: Terres, J.K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York, NY: Knopf. pp. 644–646.
  2. Source: Salzman, Eric (1993). "Sibley's Classification of Birds". Birding 58 (2): 91–98. Retrieved 5 September 2007.