Mississippi Kite

Scientific Name:
Ictinia mississippiensis
Population Status:
Least Concern
Body Length:
13-15 inches
3 feet
7-14 ounces

Did you know?

  • The body length and wingspan of Mississippi Kites and Peregrine Falcons are similar, but Peregrine Falcons can be three times heavier. Lightweight bodies give kites a buoyant flight.
  • Males and females share incubation duties. Each bird usually feeds itself when it is not incubating the eggs. In contrast, many female birds of prey provide most of the incubation, while the male supplies her with food at the nest.

Where they live

Mississippi Kites spend the summer in the southern and eastern United States and migrate as far south as northern Argentina in the winter.

Why they need our help

Populations fell until the mid-1900s, then began climbing again. Though they remain rare in some areas, it appears their breeding territory may be expanding northward. They have adapted successfully to urban areas.

What they eat

Large insects like cicadas and dragonflies are the mainstay of their diet, although some small birds are taken. They catch insects in the air, often eating them while flying.

Nest, eggs and young

They often nest in loose colonies. The female lays 2 eggs in a shallow bowl-shaped nest built of sticks. Both parents incubate the eggs for 29-31 days. The young birds fledge at 5 weeks of age.

Photo gallery

Photos needed! If you are a photographer and would be willing to donate photos of a Mississippi Kite for use on this site, please contact grin@peregrinefund.org

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Research Resources