Mississippi Kite #22-2251 released

During the past two weeks, Mississippi Kite #22-2251 has been flying very well during daily exercise routines with rehabilitation staff. A weekly weigh-in showed that the kite also gained more than 40g in weight, giving the bird the added energy reserves it might need for migration. On September 5, the veterinary team brought the kite inside the hospital to run pre-release blood work; the blood work came back within normal limits and the bird was cleared for release.

For the next two days, the rehab team closely monitored the eBird app to search for Mississippi Kite sightings in the area; Mississippi Kites generally migrate in large flocks, and staff felt that the bird would have a better chance of successfully making it through its first migration if it had other kites to accompany it on its journey south. Luckily, on September 7, staff were alerted by a hawk-watch volunteer that there were several Mississippi Kites spotted near Covesville, Virginia.

Staff at the Wildlife Center immediately conferred with the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) about the bird's release. Though the bird was physically ready to return to the wild, it was late in the migration season, and most Mississippi Kites had already traveled south. DWR and Wildlife Center staff agreed that, though late in the season, the bird's best chance of success would be if it were released now and DWR granted the Wildlife Center permission to release the bird in Covesville.

Acting quickly, front-desk supervisor Michael Adkins transported the bird to Covesville and released it. The kite took flight and circled the area several times before landing in a nearby tree. Staff are hopeful that this kite will do well on its first migration; by now, the bird may already have traveled south past Virginia's borders toward its winter destination.