My dream is to be a painter so I paint every day. This morning I was pulled from my canvas after listening to the call of a swallow tailed kite. At first the sound was in the background of my activities but it continued and pulled me outside to connect the voice with the action taking place. Right in my backyard in the canopy of the slash pine was a juvenile swallow tailed kite alternately calling out and shredding what appeared to be a squirrel. I had known that these birds eat mostly on the wing so I was delighted to get a glimpse of something I might not ordinarily see. I also know that its’ talons are not as strong as other raptors so it normally takes smaller prey. As it ate it appeared to use its right wing as an arm to help hold down the animal and/or to balance on the branch. After the bird’s meal was finished, he dropped down off the branch and spiraled around the tree and up.
The rains this week have lightened the air and the shadows seem slightly longer. It’s almost the middle of August and these beautiful birds will soon leave us for South America. With chicks fully fledged I’m told that just before they leave they gather together in a flock just at the western edge of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Perhaps they talk about their journey they are about to undertake, across the Gulf of Mexico over to Central America and onto their wintering grounds in South America. I imagine that they check to see that everyone has had an opportunity to ride the thermals since that is what they will use to get to their destination. If not I suppose that someone will keep an eye on those that fledged too late for that activity. There may even be some discussion as to who will lead the journey. Perhaps they will take turns. I can just imagine. Until then I wish them a bon voyage and look forward to their return in the middle of February.