Mississippi Kite

Ictinia mississippiensis




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to pale blue, nest stained and spotted

Number of Eggs:

1 - 3

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

30 - 135 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with green leaves and Spanish moss.





Mississippi Kite: Small kite with dark gray upperparts and pale gray underparts and head. Upperwings are dark gray with pale gray patches. Tail is long and black. Sexes are similar, but female is noticeably larger. Juvenile has brown upperparts, brown streaked underparts, and dark tail with thin, white bands.

Range and Habitat

Mississippi Kite: Nests locally in the U.S. from Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee and North Carolina south to north-western Florida, and along the Gulf coast states to Texas. Some occasionally winter in Florida; however most migrate to areas further south. Prefers open country that supports flying insects; also found in forests.

Breeding and Nesting

Mississippi Kite: One to three lightly spotted, white to pale blue eggs are laid in a minimally refurbished abandoned crow's or other nest. Eggs are incubated by both parents for about 30 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Mississippi Kite: Feeds extensively on large insects including grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies; also takes lizards, frogs, and fish; catches insects on the wing.


Mississippi Kite: Emits a two-syllable "phee phew"; first syllable is short, accented, and has a rising tone; second is longer and slurred downwards. Fledgling makes a lisping version of the same call, a common hunger cry; when an adult approaches with food, calls are given rapidly and run together into a high-pitched squealing. Adults at the nest occasionally make chipping calls.

Similar Species

Mississippi Kite: White-tailed Kite has a white tail, shoulder patches, and a black "thumb" mark near bend in underwing.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X