Hide-A-Way Hills, Ohio in the News - Rare Taptor Found Nesting

Rare raptor found nesting in Hocking County
Birders ecstatic to learn Mississippi kite is breeding in Ohio
Sunday, August 29, 2010 03:01 AM
By Mark D. Somerson


A juvenile Mississippi kite takes flight from a dead tree in Hideaway Hills. The bird was waiting for one of its parents to bring it food.

A mature Mississippi kite holds a grasshopper before offering it to its nearby juvenile.

For three years, birders have searched Hocking County trees for proof that a southern bird has made its home in Ohio.

This month, they discovered its nest in a white ash tree in Hideaway Hills.

The Mississippi kite has moved to Ohio.

"This is hugely important," said Jim McCormac of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "They are charismatic and very cool, but more importantly, it represents a recovery of habitat."

The kite is about the size of a peregrine falcon, but lighter. It hunts insects on the fly, swooping in on cicadas and dragonflies at 70 mph.

McCormac, who has written a paper on the kite with Ohio State University researcher Aaron Boone, thinks the bird used to breed in Ohio centuries ago.

"I'm convinced that they were in Ohio, pre-settlement, but that their habitat was wiped out," McCormac said. "This thing got knocked out of Ohio. This rebound effect took a long time."

The raptor was first spotted here in modern times in 1978 at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus. Sightings continued off and on across the state during the next two decades.

Then, in 2007, a veteran birder was playing golf in Hocking Hills and saw a Mississippi kite searching for insects and, later, a pair mating. Word got out and people began looking for a nest.

But any nest stayed hidden until Elizabeth van Balen Delphia, a Grandview Heights resident who owns a cabin in Hideaway Hills, called McCormac this month.

Delphia said she heard and then saw an unfamiliar bird last summer.

"I got out my bird books and discovered that it was a kite that did not belong here."

But she didn't know how significant her find was until this summer, when she told a naturalist at a nearby preserve. The naturalist told her to call McCormac.

Then she hooked up with Wildlife Division photographer Tim Daniel on Aug. 18.

Delphia saw one of the birds fly into a tree, Daniel fired his camera and the nest was discovered.

A week later, she and her husband, Michael, hosted about 60 birders who came to watch two adult and two juvenile Mississippi kites.

The Brass Ring Golf Club and Hideaway Hills are both interested in preserving the area to protect wildlife, McCormac said.

"What this is is a conservation success story," he said. "These birds are showing up in a lot of new places in the north, re-expanding their range into former breeding areas."



Karen Singer said...

Thank you for sharing this story. You not only keep up with all of the real estate trends and data in H-A-H, you are on top of the natural changes as well. Good for you and for others that are interested in H-A-H and the obvious great habitat it provides for both man and wildlife.