Bird #274 — White-tailed Kite

elanus (kite) leucurus

Sunday, April 1, 1984 — 11:00 am

Sonoita, Arizona — Route 82, just south of town

After eating breakfast at the cafe in Sonoita, we headed south toward Patagonia.  We hadn’t gone far when Mom suddenly yelled, “What’s that?” She pulled the van over to the side of the road and pointed at a large white bird.  It was flying buoyantly over a grassy, hilly field that was scattered with brush.  At first glimpse, it looked like a gull.

I hopped out of the van and got excited.  It was a White-tailed Kite (called a Black-shouldered Kite at the time).  It was flitting low over the grass, hovering occasionally in one spot for a while.  It stooped briefly to the ground once.  It was a striking bird.

When it cruised out of sight, we continued on to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary.  Dad mentioned the kite to the ranger.  He told us that they were very rare in that area, so rare as to be considered accidental.  This gave Mom a charge, since she’s the one who spotted it.

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