Undocumented Immigrant issues will dominate the upcoming elections. Personally “I was for it before I was against it.” But as they say “The times they are a changing”. On a local note, the State of Florida has been invaded with undocumented immigrants. That is until I came along. Now I have plenty of documented photographs of some of my favorite undocumented immigrants, the Swallow-tailed Kite.
Per the Cornell Lab of Ornithology we find this description of these “illegal aliens”: “The lilting Swallow-tailed Kite has been called “the coolest bird on the planet.” With its deeply forked tail and bold black-and-white plumage, it is unmistakable in the summer skies above swamps of the Southeast. Flying with barely a wingbeat and maneuvering with twists of its incredible tail, it chases dragonflies or plucks frogs, lizards, snakes, and nestling birds from tree branches. After rearing its young in a treetop nest, the kite migrates to wintering grounds in South America.” These undocumented immigrants “are creatures of the air, spending most of their day aloft and rarely flapping their wings. They tend to circle fairly low over trees as they hunt for small animals in the branches. At times they soar very high in the sky, almost at the limits of vision. During migration they may form large flocks.” It was during this return migration that I was able to document their behavior. For centuries these birds have gathered in a small lake tributary in Central Florida before returning to points as far south as Brazil. They form swirling “kettles” when they come in to roost at night often pulling aerobatic maneuvers that even our best “fly boys” would envy. I have seen them dive from thousands of feet, do inverted barrel rolls and pull “Gs” greater than any fighter pilot could imagine and land on a sprig of Cyprus like a feather. As they gather in the swamps for their migration south, they wake up, stretch their wings, catch the rising thermals, and set off for a morning forage. Before they leave, some of them will swoop down from the treetops for a morning drink. As long as there is a wind driven ripple in the water, they can swoop down and grab a gulp of fresh water and lower their tails for a fresh tail feather wash before riding the thermals and heading off for a daytime feast. This action is now well documented thanks to this intrepid photographer and his friends.
I was also able to document (with my cell phone) a spectacular sunset showing refracted sun rays converging on the opposite horizon. I don’t know the scientific name but it was a rare site to see along with these beautiful now documented “illegal immigrants.” Blessings. Harry