Our Most Beautiful Bird of Prey, Right in Our Backyard! SLR/IRL

Steve Duffy, taking photos in his backyard, Stuart, Florida.

I don’t ever remember seeing them here when I was a kid. But then in the 1970s there were no osprey in Stuart either …

The first time I saw a Swallow-Tailed Kite, “our most beautiful bird of prey,” was in Okeechobee. The distinctive soft-feathered black and white hawks fly in broad circles. Their sharp forked-tails gliding them stealth-like over the pine trees….

Just a few years ago, seeing my first one, I pulled over my car. “What is that?” I thought , not thinking much more about it. Thinking it must be a bird of Lake Okeechobee.

And then somehow over the years they seemed to pop up everywhere, not just at Lake Okeechobee. I saw when driving north on I95, driving south to West Palm Beach, and yes, even driving in the my hometown region of South Sewall’s Point! I came to consider them a new gift, a good luck symbol. Something beautiful. Something to give me hope as the river dies before me.

But I really did not know anything about them. Until recently that is….

At last month’s March for Maddy, (https://www.crowdrise.com/marchformaddie), I ran into an old friend from Martin County High School, Steve Duffy. He was carrying a camera around his neck and shared some of his photographs. I was astounded. There were photos of hummingbirds, dragonflies, and other animals, but what really caught my eye was what I was calling a “Kite.” That beautiful bird.

I thought Steve must be going somewhere distant to get such shots, but he laughed and told me they were taken right in his backyard!

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“Near North River Shores.”

Thank you to Steve who agreed to share his photos on my blog of the rare and properly named Swallow-Tailed Kite, also known as the Swallow-Tailed Hawk. And it’s clear. We may see more of them. They love it here! 🙂

“Our most beautiful bird of prey, striking in its shape, its pattern, and its extraordinarily graceful flight. Hanging motionless in the air, swooping and gliding, rolling upside down and then zooming high in the air with scarcely a motion of its wings, the Swallow-tailed Kite is a joy to watch. At one time it was common in summer over much of the southeast, but today it is found mostly in Florida and a few other areas of the deep south.” Audubon Society, 2018

Audubon 1: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/swallow-tailed-kite

Audubon 2: https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/swallow-tailed-hawk


All of these pics are taken just off my back patio are with my Nikon D5500 camera and telephoto lens. These are a pair of swallow-tailed kites courting then mating above the tree approximately 100-150 ft away. And then to my delight the pair landed and mated in my pines.

Swallow-tailed Kites are raptors (birds of prey) very distinct because of their black and white color and forked-tails with wing spans of 3.5 – 4.5 feet.

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas


10 thoughts on “Our Most Beautiful Bird of Prey, Right in Our Backyard! SLR/IRL

  1. Amazing photos, Jacquie! Thank you! We have numerous osprey living in the tall trees at Bay Tree Lodge, fishing and eating their prey on the pilings of our piers. But I’ve never seen Swallow-tail Kites…will have to watch more closely now…
    — Knight

  2. Jacqui, Enjoy your post every day. Regarding the latest, showing the swallow tail kites. I see regularly from our house on the south fork river. Our community is aptly named Tropical Paradise. Keep up the good work and help save our river.

    Mike Townes Sent from my iPad Pro


  3. I love watching them high up swooping and then landing in my long leaf pines. Nice to seem some close ups. Didn’t realize their wingspan was 3.5 -4.5 ft!

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