The Mississippi Kite is an agile, graceful, yet deadly raptor. They are aptly named "kite", as they are often found hovering in midair. They mainly eat large insects, like grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas. They will choose a group of insects and dive at them, knocking them out of the air. They will not land or alight on a limb to eat their catch, but eat it in midair and resume hunting in seconds.
Like most raptors, the female Kite is larger than the male. .
The Mississippi Kite has pointed wings like that of a falcon, angled clearly and dark colored. Their tail is long and rectangular, with a notch at the end. Their underside is dark to light gray; their head is light gray to white, with a short, curved, black bill. The kite's eyes are scarlet, with a black band running through them. The feet are clay, with two toes in front and two in back, and their legs are unfeathered.
The immature Mississippi Kite has brown streaked plumage, wings as dark as the adults and a sandy colored head. The tail is barred white, the beak black and the feet are yellow.
Nests are built in trees, but the Kites do not prefer a certain type of tree, but where the tree is and how thick the foliage is. The nest is constructed in early May, built with pencil-size twigs. The nest is lined daily with leaves, and no one really knows why.
The Mississippi Kite will lay 1 to 2 eggs per clutch, almost never more than 3. One theory is that the size of the clutch varies with the amount of prey available. The eggs are laid day by day, never on the same day. The eggs are a uniform bluish white, and incubated by both parents for 29-31 days. While they are being incubated the eggs are vulnerable to snakes, raccoons, and other birds. Because the eggs are laid one by one the hatching times will usually be different.
The Mississippi Kite is generally found in the southeastern U.S. during the summer months, but may be found as far west as Arizona. They migrate in winter over land (down through Mexico, and across the Central American isthmus, rather than over the Gulf of Mexico) into interior South America.