PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Swallow Tailed Kites

The Swallow-tailed Kite is a hawk with crisp and beautiful black-and-white plumage and an aerial ability that allows it to sail seemingly effortlessly with few wing-beats as it twists and turns, providing an incredible display of aerial aerobatics to seize basking lizards, tree frogs hugging plant stems, dragonflies on the wing, nestling birds from exposed nests, and a diversity of other small animals. Its long, deeply forked black tail is used as a rudder allowing the kite to perform its aerial ballet in its search for food.

This master of the air used to arrive around St. Patrick’s Day to nest throughout Florida and across the Gulf states. With climate change it has been arriving earlier. In late summer it gathers in large roosts for the night then suddenly disappears to migrate to Central and South America for the winter.