Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)


French: Milan du Mississippi German: Mississippiweih Spanish: Elanio del Misisipi

Falco misisippiensis

[sic] A. Wilson

, 1811,

below Natchez, Mississippi, USA


Closely related to I. plumbea, the two sometimes treated as conspecific. Monotypic.


Mainly in S tier of USA, from Arizona E to Virginia and N Florida, and maybe N Mexico. Winters in South America, chiefly in Paraguay and parts of SE Bolivia, SW Brazil and NE Argentina.

Descriptive notes

31–38 cm; male 216–269 g, female 278–339 g; wingspan 75–83 cm. More like falcon than hawk, with long, pointed wings. Adult solid medium grey body with... read more


Mostly silent in migration and on wintering grounds. High-pitched downward whistle, “phee-pheew”,... read more


Habitat use in nesting season highly variable geographically. In SE USA, mature bottomland... read more

Food and feeding

Insects constitute c. 90% of food, e.g. cicadas, katydids, grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles. Vertebrates taken are mainly amphibians,... read more


Eggs laid from early May to late Jun with peak in late May; fledging occurs from mid-Jul to mid-Aug. Nests in loose semi-colonial... read more


Long-distance Neotropical migrant; pre-migratory flocks form by early Aug on breeding grounds.... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Declined early in 20th century but on increase since latter half of century, perhaps because of habitat modifications... read more

Recommended citation

White, C.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).