Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

September 17, 2017

Patient of the Week: White-tailed Kite

Rare patient: A White-tailed Kite in care at our SF Bay-Delta Center.

Because of our specialization with water birds, it’s not often that we get to work with or talk about non-aquatic birds, such as this gorgeous, juvenile White-tailed Kite. You may remember three oiled Prairie Falcon chicks that we featured last summer. While we specialize in aquatic bird species, we work with any species that is in need to the best of our abilities.

This kite came to our San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center in need of food, water, and warmth after being found crouching near a chicken coop at a private residence in Vallejo, California. The home owner brought the bird to our clinic and we quickly worked to stabilize it, providing the needed warmth and fluids and force-feeding it since it was not ready to feed on its own. We cared for the bird for a couple of days until it was stabilized, and then transferred it to our colleagues at Lindsay Wildlife Museum where it could receive specialized long-term care from their raptor specialists.

White-tailed Kites are medium-sized raptors that can be found in open grasslands and savannas. A good way to spot them in the wild is their characteristic hunting style of hovering over the ground in search of small mammals! They have a bright white tail, grey back and wings, and a white face. Click the photo at top to see footage of a kite hunting and feasting.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it is unknown whether these soaring beauties are nomadic, migratory, or both. They can be found roosting communally in the off-season.

Though White-tailed Kites are not currently threatened, all raptor species face the challenge of contamination from our environment. Sitting at the top of the food chain, raptors are heavily affected by the toxins that get into their diets. When their prey (small mammals, birds, etc.) are exposed to toxins, these toxins can get more concentrated in the bird of prey when they ingest the animal.

While we love our water birds at Bird Rescue, we’re always happy to celebrate all birds, and this White-tailed Kite is a true beauty. For more information on White-tailed Kites, go here.

Photos by Senior Rehabilitation Technician Jennifer Linander

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