My husband is an avid outdoorsman. As a kid growing up he had acres to roam and spent a lot of time communing with nature. This week, he got another chance and we had a new experience.
Mississippi Kites are a bird of prey similar to a small hawk. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_kite They eat flying bugs and they have invaded our residential neighborhood this year. We have a huge, heavily leafed sweetgum tree in the front yard that we talk about taking down all the time. It is strong and healthy but is the bane of our existence. Each winter to spring we rake up countless bags of sweetgum balls that look like tiny landmines and feel like it on bare feet. The roots grow above ground making mowing a problem.
But in that lush tree is a community of birds, bugs, squirrels an other creatures that we know nothing about. This week a juvenile, fully feathered, Mississippi Kite fell from the tree and was unable to get back in his nest. The husband named him Tike. Tike the Kite. We watched him for three days as he got stronger, learned to stand on his legs, which might have been injured, and flap his wings in an attempt to fly. The parents visited and fed him bugs. And he slowly began to circle the tree with its many roots above ground. He felt safe. Until the next-door neighbor’s children began to run and scream as they washed the car in their driveway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SairtjDdFc&feature=youtu.be
My husband had already contacted several rehabilitators listed with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department, and they thought since the bird was being fed, we should leave it alone. Then it got scared. We’d watched it from afar trying not to disturb it. But then it began to try to get away from the noise next door and stumbled its way to our driveway and into the hot sun. My husband watched in horror afraid it would surely be found by a wandering cat or dog if not hidden under the tree. And then it did the strangest thing. As he stood on the driveway hoping it wouldn’t get under his pickup, it cuddled up between his feet!
We finally took matters into our own hands. Certain we would be dive bombed by the parents, my husband donned leather gloves and scooped up the bird. He wasn’t even pecked. The kite seemed to know a gentle hand.
The rehabilitator suggested we try to put it back in the tree, so with the help of a step stool he was once again scooped up in gloved hands and placed gently in the tree.
Hours later he was found back on the ground and it was dark. The rehabilitator agreed this time to take the bird. He was again picked up and placed in a box and then taken to someone who hopefully will be able to release it back into the wild when it is able to fly.
I don’t know where the parents were while we adopted their little one. But at least no one was attacked. Kites tend to be very protective of their young.
We had a new experience this week. Tike, I hope you live a long, and strong life. Eat a bug for me.