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Return of Bird of the Week: Plumbeous Kite

WC is continuing with kites, mid-sized raptors, not the human-made flying objects named after the birds. This week we’ll have a look at the Plumbeous Kite.

Plumbeous Kite, Pantanal, Brazil

Plumbeous Kite, Pantanal, Brazil

The Plumbeous Kite takes its name from its dark gray, well, leaden color. “Plumbeous” is from the Latin for “lead.” It’s quite similar in appearance to the Mississippi Kite, which shares its range in migration and during the winter. It ranges from northern Mexico to northern Argentina.

It feeds on insects from a perch or while in flight over the forest, particularly over the canopy or along edges. Some Plumbeous Kites also follow primates to prey on insects that are flushed by the monkeys.

Plumbeous Kite, Ecuador

Plumbeous Kite, Ecuador

At 7 to 10 ounces, it’s one of the larger avian insectivores – bug-eating birds – around. Like the Snail Kite, it doesn’t fit well with our image of a raptor, but nature does confound our expectations sometimes. Maybe most of the time.

Plumbeous Kite, Ecuador

Plumbeous Kite, Ecuador

This is primarily a forest bird. While it hunts from both perches and aerial flight, it’s tough to get decent photos for forest birds in flight. The low light makes a decent shutter speed difficult, and autofocus gets confused by the foliage. Or maybe WC is just making excuses.

The very wide range of the species and largish population likely mean that the species is not in immediate danger. But, really, there’s no hard data and the ongoing destruction of forest habitat is a concern. They are a beautiful, elegant bird, and that red eye is even more amazing in the field than these photos suggest.

For more bird photographs, please visit Frozen Feather Images.



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