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Mississippi Kite in SE Minnesota?

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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 22:02   #1
Mississippi Valley Girl
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Mississippi Kite in SE Minnesota?

Just spotted the loveliest bird and after much research, it appears to be a Mississippi Kite. Although, it doesn't sound like this bird would be around these parts this time of the year. Also, it was snatching voles out of the snow and I read that these birds eat insects. The bird was about 12", with a white head, slate blue body and black tail feathers,somewhat long. It looked like it had a black mask on its eyes, though the photos I have looked at since the sighting do not show any eye mask. I have lived here 13 years and have never seen this bird. Any ideas?
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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 22:13   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum.

Your bird sounds to me like a Northern Shrike.

Take a look at it here (Great Grey Shrike is the European name for the bird).

Mike
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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 22:16   #3
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I spotted a few months back a Swallow-Tailed Kite here in NJ. This bird was out of its range and I reported the sighting on ebird.org. If you are not already on ebird I suggest registering and reporting the sighting. For uncommon birds in your area a birder from the site will contact you and ask for more detail. It's good 'citizen science' to report on ebird to help Ornithologists get avifauna distribution data to aid in research. That's a cool sighting !

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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 22:27   #4
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shrike vs kite...these look like two very different birds based on shape, size ,wing span/wing shape, so it's hard to tell what you saw without a photo or more detail. They are both predator birds so eating the vole sounds characteristic of both.
But, the Mississippi Kite seems way out of range here, so it most likely is not this bird (?)
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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 23:11   #5
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Sightings of Mississippi Kite in Minnesota are are generally between June and September. In the winter months Mississippi Kites don't travel much farther north than Arkansas.

There is a map showing sightings of Northern Shrike in your area here. Orange markers are recent sightings.

Mike
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Old Thursday 10th January 2013, 23:44   #6
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The other bird that is even remotely possible (more based on behavior than anything else) would be hawk owl

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Old Friday 11th January 2013, 00:00   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmepler View Post
Sightings of Mississippi Kite in Minnesota are are generally between June and September. In the winter months Mississippi Kites don't travel much farther north than Arkansas.

There is a map showing sightings of Northern Shrike in your area here. Orange markers are recent sightings.

Mike
Actually Mississippi Kites are unknown in the US and North America in the winter. The entire population winters in south central South America. I don't think there are any documented North American records from mid-winter. And, they are graceful hawkers of dragonflies and flying insects from the canopy and above; I can't imagine them plunging into snow for voles! I would guess Northern Shrike as well.

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Old Friday 11th January 2013, 00:45   #8
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northern shrike sounds right, some of the other marks that op mentioned exclude hawk owl.
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Old Friday 11th January 2013, 01:02   #9
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I agree this is almost certainly a Northern Shrike.

As to Mississippi Kites in the U.S. in the winter, there are a few odd records on Christmas Bird Counts. The CBC website shows 8 records in the last 20 years in the southeast (SC, etc.). But those could be as early as mid-December.
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Old Friday 11th January 2013, 12:52   #10
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Thanks everyone. Northern Shrike it must be, though the photos I just looked at don't do it justice. I can't believe I have lived here for 14 years and have never spotted one of these beauties. I have my camera ready in case it comes back today. Cool forum! Glad I found this community.
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Old Friday 11th January 2013, 23:34   #11
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Originally Posted by Mississippi Valley Girl View Post
Thanks everyone. Northern Shrike it must be, though the photos I just looked at don't do it justice. I can't believe I have lived here for 14 years and have never spotted one of these beauties. I have my camera ready in case it comes back today. Cool forum! Glad I found this community.
Welcome. Northern Shrikes are uncommon birds. Whenever birders anywhere in the upper midwest see them, they end up on the ABA bird reports. They aren't super rare, but always a good find. That's why you haven't seen one before.
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