Monday, August 6, 2012

Mississippi Kite Hawks

Early Sunday it felt as though we have finally rounded the corner on the Summer; for several hours it was a delightful temperature with a gentle breeze. As with every season, change arrives on schedule and thus it is with the ending of the summer of 2012. And quite a Summer it has been as Oklahomans endured record breaking heat and wildfires. Some years it is distressing to see the Sun marking the inevitable arrival of Fall… other years, such as this one, it is a relief. The plight of our birds was an odd occurrence this year. The high temperatures seemed the opposite equivalent of a winter blizzard and they were desperately in need of our help. Often it is unnecessary to feed in the summer months, however this year the poor birds have been extremely stressed. The hummingbirds truly needed their feeder since the flowers were lackluster, sparse, and dry. All of the birds have needed water we provide since so many natural sources are dry. Our native birds have need an easy source of food since the heat has taken a toll on their energy levels, making foraging difficult. The media reported last weekend the Mississippi Kite Hawks have suffered a terrible trauma. Soaring high, smoothly floating on air currents, they are also called the Mosquito Hawk since they are able catch and eat insects while airborne. Pairs come here to nest each year and their young hatch much later than other hawks. The nest is built high in the tree tops for safety and the brood usually consists of two, who are raised by both parents. Kites are extremely protective of their young and have a reputation for fearlessly ‘dive bombing’ people who venture too close to their nests. As the temperatures climbed this summer, the heat in the nests became excessively high, sometimes reaching 130 degrees. Consequently many Kites that were too young to be on their own abandoned the nest. Every rehabilitation sanctuary in Oklahoma is full of baby Kites that are being cared for until time for their release. The Mississippi Kite Hawk is truly beneficial for insect control and the loss of a generation may be an ecological disaster. *We found this youngster in the driveway Friday. He was too hot and weak to protest so we cooled him off and fed him minnows until he regained some strength, then let his grateful parents take over. Pray for Rain!