Kite Identification Tips

The Mississippi Kite (left) is sometimes mistaken for the Swallow-tailed Kite (right).

Here are some tips to help differentiate these two species:

Swallow-tailed Kite
• white head, breast
• wings and tail are black with a bluish cast
• white panels on mid-dorsal surface of wings are only visible when perched
• larger size and wingspan
• long, deeply forked tail

Mississippi Kite
• light gray head, breast
• charcoal black wings, tail
• gray panels on dorsal, trailing edges of wings are clearly visible in flight
• slightly smaller
• short, squared off tail

Above: Dorsal view of Swallow-tailed Kite.

Below: Dorsal views of Mississippi Kites. Note the light gray panels on the trailing edges of the wings.


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