White Tailed Kites: Habitat

White-tailed Kite require open spaces (6) to hunt for their preferred small mammalian prey. The criteria for habitat selection appear to be prey abundance, number of competitors (3) and the structure of vegetation (6). Kites are usually seen in open spaces such as grassy lowlands, marshes, agricultural areas, wetlands, or riparian areas next to open grassland (6). It is believed that the kite does not migrate, but is unknown. Depending upon prey availability and season, kites may disperse to other areas, and could be considered to be nomadic. Where there is an abundance of prey, foraging areas may support not only kites with nests nearby, but other kites from further away. (8)

Nesting sites chosen by White-tailed Kites are usually in the top third of trees or shrubs, normally located at the edge of foraging areas (3). The trees or bushes may be growing singly or in stands, and are of moderate height with dense canopies. A variety of vegetation types such as toyon, eucalyptus, cottonwoods, coyote brush, (2) oak, willow, and sagebrush have been reportedly used. (3).

On More Mesa, kites have been known to nest mostly in Oaks and Elderberry. The large open spaces of More Mesa are very critical for hunting success. They have been seen to use all of the grasslands while searching for prey.

There is nothing more enthralling than to watch a kite soar up to meet the incoming sea breeze and hover and intently survey the land below. This procedure is repeated over and over again as the kite ranges all over the grassland until it suddenly and swiftly drops to the ground to capture its prey.