Subject: RE: Nisqually Kite
Date: May 5 11:11:25 1995
From: "Skye, Azure" - askye at

I saw e-mail on tweeters RE: Nisqually Kite, I also observed a
Black-Shouldered Kite at Nisqually several times during the period stated in
the following manuscript I typed up for my friends Bud and Dave awhile back,
thought you might find it interesting, here is the body of it:

by Clifford M. Anderson and David M. Batchelder

The range of the Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caerulus) in the United
States has been restricted to several resident populations concentrated in
southern Texas and western California with smaller numbers along the gulf of
Mexico coast and in Arizona (Clark and Wheeler 1987). During the last 30
years, however, the species has been expanding its range (Eisenmann 1971,
Larson 1980) and has now been reported in at least 22 states (American
Ornithologists Union 1983, Clark and Wheeler 1987 and Toups, et al., 1985).

On the Pacific coast, records of the Black-shouldered Kite breeding
in California extend into the last century (Taylor 1887). In Oregon,
the earliest kite observation was reported by Jewett (1933) near Portland.
Henny and Annear (1978) located the first breeding pair near Corvallis in
Kites were first noted in Washington on 10 July 1975 at the Nisqually River
delta, Thurston County and on 27 November 1977 near Raymond, Pacific County
(Harrington-Tweit 1980). More recently, the species has been reported
regularly in southwestern Washington, including Toledo, Lewis County; Grays
Harbor, Grays
Harbor County; and on the Long Beach Peninsula, Pacific County. The
northernmost record for the state occurred on 29 October 1983 near Samish
Island, Skagit County (Thais Bock, pers. comm.) Although this sighting took
place 30 miles south of the Canadian border, kites have yet to be recorded in
British Columbia (R.W. Campbell, pers. comm.)

No nests of the Black-shouldered Kite have been reported for Washington, in
spite of recent observations of four family groups in the southwestern part
of the state. Herein, we report the first nesting record for the
Black-shouldered Kite.

On 12 May, 1988, Batchelder watched a pair of kites copulate atop a Sitka
Spruce (Picea sitchensis) near the Raymond airport. On a later visit (26
May), he saw an adult kite carry prey to the same tree. A month later (28
June), he observed a prey transfer between the two adults. One bird flew into
an apparent nest with food. As it flew from the tree several minutes later,
Batchelder saw movement in the nest. The following day at 2000, we used a
Questar telescope (54x) to confirm the presence of at least one live downy
young in the nest. We estimated it to be approximate 10-14 days old.

We re-visited the site on 23 July and climbed the nest tree for the first
time. We found 3 dead chicks, half-grown. We could not determine the cause of
death, although we suspect it was related to an unusually cold, wet period in
late June.

The nest structure was 20" in diameter and 5" thick. It was composed of both
deciduous and coniferous sticks and had a 1" thick mat of mammal fur on the
floor. It was situated against the north side of the main trunk, 54 feet
above ground and 4 feet below the top of the tree. The nest was
well-concealed and very difficult to see from the ground. The tree was
located in a row of Spruce, Alder (Alnus rubra), and Willow (Salix spp.)
bordering the eastern boundary of the airstrip.

The surrounding area, located at sea-level, is open, flat pastureland
reclaimed historically from the adjacent mudflats of Willapa Bay. Vegetation
consists of grasses, Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense), Common Horsetail
(Equisetum arvense), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Juncus tussocks.

During the last six years, at least four other family groups of kites have
been observed in the southwestern part of Washington, but no nests have been
reported. In 1982, R. Widrig (Harrington-Tweit et al., 1982) found 2 adults
and 2 juveniles flying together at Leadbetter Point, Pacific County, on 18
and 23 September. On 5 September, 1984, L. D'Veck (pers. comm.) saw 2 adults
feeding a single young near Oysterville, Pacific County. In 1987, on 18
August, B. Tweit located 2 adults and 4 immatures near the Raymond airport
(Mattocks 1988) and L. D'Veck (pers. comm.) observed another adult feeding 3
young near Oysterville on 7 September. All of these reports involved fledged
family groups but no nests.
We would like to thank Bill Clark for making several useful suggestions on
this paper.

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists Union. 1983. Checklist of North American Birds. Sixth
Edition. Lawrence, 877p.
Clark, W.S. and B.K. Wheeler. 1987. A Field Guide to Hawks, North America.
Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 198pp.
Eisenmann, E. 1971. Range Expansion and Population Increase in
North and Middle America of the White-tailed Kite
(Elanus leucurus)
Am. Birds 25:529-536.
Harrington-Tweit, W. 1980. First Records of the White-tailed Kite
in Washington. West. Birds 11:151-153.
Harrington-Tweit, W. , P. Mattocks and E. Hunn. 1982. North Pacific Coast
Region. Amer. Birds 36(6):1009.
Henny, C.J. and J.T. Annear. 1978. A White-tailed Kite Breeding Record for
Oregon. West. Birds 9:131-133.
Jewett, S.G. 1933. White-tailed Kite in Oregon. Murrelet 14:79.
Larson, D. 1980. Increase in the White-tailed Kite Populations of California
and Texas - 1944-1978. Amgr. Birds 34:689-690.
Mattocks, P. Jr. 1988. North Pacific Coast Region. Am. Birds
Taylor, H.R. 1887. The Nesting of the White-tailed Kite. Orn. and Ool.
Toups, J.A., J.A. Jackson and E. Johnson. 1985. Black-shouldered Kite: Range
Expansion into Mississippi. Am. Birds 39(5):865-867.

Authors Addresses:

Clifford M. Anderson
Falcon Research Group
Box 248
Bow, WA 98232

David M. Batchelder
2514 Boyer Avenue, East
Seattle, WA 98102

askye at
Azure Skye
University of Washington
Department of Environmental Health, Roosevelt
4225 Roosevelt Way NE, #206
Seattle, WA 98105-6099
(206) 543-4383
To: tweeters at
From: tweeters at on Mon, May 1, 1995 15:10
Subject: Re: Nisqually Kite
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From: "Roger Peffer" <rpeffer at>
To: tweeters at
Subject: Re: Nisqually Kite
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In message <199505011723.RAA21292 at> writes:
> MBEB1215 at (4/29) wondered whether they were reasonable
> in identifying a Black-shouldered Kite / White-tailed Kite at
> the Nisqually NWR.

Saw one at Nisqually a few years back. Must of been 7-8 years ago, I'd have
check the field notes...

Roger Peffer- rpeffer at 509-662-1651 X2017
Wenatchee Valley College
Biology/Chemistry Departments
1300 Fifth Street
Wenatchee, WA 98801