Twain the Mississippi Kite | by Yara Delgado …..
Did you know, all Florida raptors are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state law, making it illegal to kill or trap any of these birds. Also, to relocate or remove a nest, eggs or the bird itself you will need a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Even so, these beautiful birds are constantly victims of illegal trapping, shooting and poisoning.
And sadly, that is the story of this incredibly beautiful raptor, Twain, a Mississippi Kite who was found with a badly injured wing in at a home in Hernando County.
When a volunteer from Owl’s Nest arrived, she could see there was another Mississippi Kite waiting for Twain at the top of a tree, most likely his mate as breeding pairs stay together during the whole season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t return “home” and needed to be taken to The Wildlife Docs at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to receive urgent care instead.
Dr.Dominique found that Twain had been shot! A single pellet that went sideways through its chest and out the wing, breaking the wing. He spent three long weeks in rehab until his wound recovered and was taken to our partners at Seaside Seabird Sanctuary for a test flight. There, Melissa Dollard and her staff tried everything they could but in the end, he was deemed non-releasable because he couldn’t recover his flying abilities completely and the probability of him surviving in the wild were zero.
Today, he lives at The Narrows, in George C. McGough Nature Park, Largo, FL. Since it is a Mississippi Kite, the volunteers decided to name him Twain, but they aren’t sure if it is a male. The name allows for the flexibility of boy or girl, Mark Twain or Shania Twain. He will live a healthy life in a place adapted to his needs and will eventually become an educational ambassador. Now he has a very important job in our organization, sharing his story with the purpose of educating about illegal shooting of protected birds. We encourage you to visit this rarely seen raptor as Mississippi Kites are rarely seen below Dade city.. they are a smaller Gray version with the beautiful black eyeliner of the swallowtail Kite. In the future, you may even be able to see Twain with us at educational events.
We are still incredibly saddened by the fact that he will not return to the wild. He surely traveled a long distance with the hopes of finding a mate with whom he could spend the winter and prepare for mating season, which starts in May. And instead, he ended up getting shot and having to adapt to a totally different lifestyle.
Fun Fact: Mississippi Kites feed on medium-sized and large insects—such as beetles, leafhoppers, and grasshoppers—along with a variety of frogs, toads, lizards, turtles, snakes, small birds, terrestrial mammals, and bats. They can grab prey from the air or from trees, shrubs, tall plants, and other objects on the ground, and they often eat their prize while still flying.
The unnecessary deaths of raptors happen often but you can get involved to help stop it. You don’t have to be a rescuer, rehabber or veterinarian, we can all come together as a community to prevent.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED: PREVENTION
Shooting, trapping or poisoning protected birds have serious legal consequences. The role that raptors play in our ecosystems and aesthetics is very important and we must strive to educate others and speak to authorities if we see these outrageous acts taking place in our neighborhoods.
Another serious threat to these species that we could help prevent is secondary poisoning and water pollution. Pesticides like DDT can cause painful harm and often death to raptors. DDT was actually banned from USA in 1972 because of the harmful effects it has on the environment but there are still other pesticides and herbicides that are allowed for use and are also deadly to raptors. Research before using any pesticides and herbicides on your backyard, opt to use organic solutions or try out organic agriculture instead of the conventional way. Use live traps instead of rat poison as when a raptor ingest a poisoned rat, it too becomes poisoned.
Keep surrounding waters clean and free of hazards like fishing lines. Birds can get easily tangled with fishing lines and starve to death, which is a terrible and painful way to die and can be so easily prevented. Just pick up after yourself or pick up trash when you see it, even if you didn’t put it there, recycle or dispose it accordingly.
Finally, lead shots were banned nationwide in 1991. These can be deadly to scavengers like vultures when ingested from a carcass. Non-toxic shot regulations apply when hunting waterfowl (ducks, geese, brant, swans and coots) and these have the purpose of protecting migratory birds from sickness and death if the shot is ingested.
If you’re having trouble with raptors turning aggressive to people, pets or livestock in your home or neighborhood, MyFWC has “A Guide to Dealing with Aggressive Hawks ” that could help you start looking for solutions that doesn’t require a permit.
If you happen to find any wildlife in trouble, please report it to Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, a Federally and State Permitted Rehabilitation & Non-Profit Organization. The fastest way to reach us is by texting (813) 598-5926 and we will dispatch a volunteer as soon as possible.
There are several ways you can be a part of caring for our injured and orphaned wildlife. As a non-profit, monetary donations and supplies are always appreciated. 100% of all gifts go directly to animal care.
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