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The Spoonbill, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1995
Image 4
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The Spoonbill, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1995 - Image 4. September 1995. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 19, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1918/show/1913.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(September 1995). The Spoonbill, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1995 - Image 4. Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1918/show/1913

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

The Spoonbill, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1995 - Image 4, September 1995, Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 19, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023/item/1918/show/1913.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title The Spoonbill, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 1995
Contributor (Local)
  • Mueller Boyce, Judith
Publisher Outdoor Nature Club
Date September 1995
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Ornithology
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • newsletters
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
Original Item Location ID 2007-023, Box 12, Folder 17
ArchivesSpace URI /repositories/2/archival_objects/9880
Original Collection Outdoor Nature Club Records
Digital Collection Outdoor Nature Club Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2007_023
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://libraries.uh.edu/branches/special-collections/
Use and Reproduction In Copyright
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Image 4
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name uhlib_2007_023_b012_f017_009_004.jpg
Transcript trJ/ied Covins PERSOMAL HIGH It's amazing how fortuitous birdwatching can be. I had decided to spend Saturday with my wife, Kassie, at the farm rather than hurry to our new farm to work. We needed to buy horse and bird food in Bryan, but decided instead to deliver material for a quilt we were having made in Marquez. That's another, "What if?" Then, Kassie suggested an alternate route. We were joy riding down the back roads of Robertson County on August 26,1995 at 11:36 a.m. The post oak was too thick for the country to be really pretty or interesting. I watched the roadsides and noted the bluestem grass and occasional stands of dried thistle heads. Rolling along about 60 mph, Kassie turned to me, after craning for a view through the back window and announced, "SWALLOW-TAILED KITE!" Although extremely skeptical, 1 did a bird stop, grabbed the binoculars and jumped out of the truck. A flock of Mississippi Kites was riding the thermal over the hill and sure enough, among them was a perfect split-tail, black and white bird- -an adult Swallow-tailed Kite. I quickly handed the binoculars to Kassie so she could have a look. She got a brief look before it slid behind the trees. I grabbed the binoculars and ran back up the highway toward a clearing. Kassie followed in the truck and found me standing on a side road, CR334, James Cemetery Road, watching about 12 Mississippi Kites and the Swallowtail, circling over a pasture. They were diving from 100 or more feet above toward a grove of trees on a hilltop. We could not see if they were taking cicadas or the dragonflies that were abundant in the pasture. At any rate, I watched the Swallowtail eat several insects in the ten minutes that the flock worked the area. It soared on flat wings and reached a talon forward to eat on the wing. Soaring in a circle directly overhead, the bird was pure white with black flight feathers, immaculate. The Swallowtail's profile is much larger than that of a Mississippi Kite, with its much longer wings and Tail.- Irisrhowever, not really much larger. The Swallowtail's wings are often swept back, with tips and tail fluttering as it dives. A most peculiar sight and quite a contrast to the falcon-like power dive of the Mississippi Kite. Several times we saw a Mississippi trail the Swallowtail in a shallow dive, as if it were intent on stealing from or otherwise harassing the Swallowtail. However, each time the Swallowtail banked, forked its tail and soared flat, the trailing Mississippi would pull up and away as if in danger. The Swallowtail took short steep dives, tail and wings fluttering, shaking its body as if a rabbit ran over its grave. It looked like it was taking an air bath. Unfortunately, the distance was such that I could not see what specifically prompted the dives. However, the dives were interrupted by several turns and tail forks, culminating each time by quick pullouts and flat soaring. Any fighter pilot would have been impressed. The active observation period lasted only ten minutes. I lamented that I couldn't see driving away from such a sight. We stayed a while longer. A couple of Turkey Vultures appeared from the south, then more. Suddenly the kites disappeared to the southwest. Nothing left but a few Turkey Vultures. It was much easier to drive away. Game's over. We win! Every time I've seen Swallow- tailed Kites have been memorable. June 1967: Fifty seen in an isolated giant tree at Rio Santa Anta in Venezuela. March 20,1969: My U.S. lifer observed flying across Hempstead Highway near Cypress Creek. Other sightings: Florida Everglades on my honeymoon; Captain Brownie's boat sitting at the dock just before an Audubon field trip; over the trees at the High Island Sanctuary while we were building the original kiosk; during Mary Anne Chapman's wedding on Bolivar Peninsula, Bob's Bait Camp Road; Sandy Point, FM 521, on the way to Freeport; and Taylor Bayou (collecting nesting material). In twenty-eight years of birdwatching, the Swallow-tailed Kite is one of few birds I have seen with some regularity that 1 can still remember every sighting. Fred Collins, a wildlife biologist, is the Director of the Nature Discovery Center at Russ Pitman Park in Bellaire. A past president of Houston Audubon Society, Fred maintains a flock of over 30 species of parrots at his Center for Avian Propagation and Research.