Sep 5, 2011

White-Tailed Kite Reunion

T.Llovet/flythebirdpath 2010
If you have ever seen a large gray and white bird in flight but stationary, fluttering like a moth - that is likely a kite. On the West coast of the U.S., it would be a white-tailed kite, (formerly black-shouldered kite).

Nearly a week ago, on the edge of Stanford University, a young kite was found grounded, being harassed by a domestic cat. The bird was admitted to Peninsula Humane Society's wildlife hospital where our Bay Area Team leader, Patrick, evaluated its condition.

Even though the fledgling had quite a few of its baby-feathers emerging, he was in very good shape and feisty - a good candidate for reuniting.

Wild animals stand a better chance of surviving as adults if they are raised by their wild parents. Whenever possible, a healthy wild animal should be reunited with its family unit - it is not just an option, it is a must.

If raised by humans in a captive environment, even at the finest wildlife facility, young animals miss out on learning valuable skills and key information about their home territory and single animals miss the opportunity to socialize and bond with wild sibling.

T.Llovet/flythebirdpath 2010
Young white-taileds are known to socialize with their siblings many months after leaving the nest. More importantly, they receive schooling from their parents for weeks after they fledge, fine-tuning the characteristic hover-and-dive hinting technique necessary for their survival. With luck, they will make their first kill one month after learning to fly.

After a few days in rehabilitative care, the kite was taken home. Patrick used a bucket to hoist the bird up to a high branch in the bird’s home tree where he was left to reunite with the rest of his family. His parents could be heard calling.

We will post updates as we receive them.

Once, white tailed kites were widespread over much of California’s grasslands… until they were covered with concrete and steel… It was thought that habitat loss contributed to their decline in the 1930s, when the species neared extinction. Protection from shooting and rodent-rich agricultural fields may have helped the species recover, but like so many other species they are not out of the woods - or are they?

This particular family of white-tailed kites has historically nested in the treetops above a bustling campus, successfully raising one or two broods a year. Perhaps the species is adapting to living in close proximity to humans.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. Thank you for taking this on.