Melon Field Swallow-tailed Kite Show 2015 - Peter Brannon
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This year I had the opportunity to watch hundreds of swallow-tailed kites (STKI) feed over the melon fields in Sumter County, Florida. The birds would begin to gather around 9am and start a feeding frenzy that last several hours. The birds swoosh and dive in an amazing display of aerial acrobatics and hunting proficiency. Thousands of insects such as stink bugs and grasshoppers meet their demise. 

Target Acquired

Target Acquired

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) ~ Sumter County, Florida

A kits about to grab a stink bug out of the air, its talons poised to strike.

Along with the Swallow-tail Kites, I saw at least two Mississippi Kites (MIKI) that would come in from time to time. Most of the time they were quite high up soaring and hunting above the STKI. 

The kites feed for several hours over the melon fields and eventually begin to rise with the heat around noon. I have heard the numbers estimated from 400-1000 birds. 

Directions to the CR 222 Melon Fields:

These photos were taken on CR 222/CR 223 in Sumter County. I have added a map below. The melon highlighted red rectangle is where most of the birds were seen. There are other fields in the area that have also had many birds present according to others. 

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