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This image is a portrait of a Yellow Billed Kite (Milvus migrans parasitus) that I took this past summer during my visit to the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, South Carolina. The Yellow Billed Kite is a bird of prey that lives primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will spend much of its time in equatorial Africa and then migrate to breed in Southern Africa between September and December.
As you look at this image, I hope you can see that it a connection to its dinosaur ancestors. Since birds are the direct surviving link to the dinosaurs, I cannot help but feel that connection when I look at this Kite.
On a final note, the science teacher in me is curious about the scientific name of this bird, Milvus migrans parasitus. The genus name (Milvus) is clearly the genus of the kites. The species name (migrans) reflects the migratory nature of the group. The intrigue for me comes with the subspecies name of parasitus. Nowhere in the meager online data about these birds is there any reference to any sort of parasitic behavior. I initially expected to find that they might lay eggs in the nests of other birds (called "brood parasitism") like Cuckoos or Cowbirds. My research did not support this hypothesis. Thus far, I can only attribute the parasitus name to two possible behaviors.
1) Kites occasionally will "reuse" the abandoned nest site of other species of birds.
2) Kites will steal or "pirate" food from other birds.
Neither of these seems to warrant the parasitus name in my opinion, so I will keep investigating. If any of you happen to be more expert in such matters, I would love to hear from you!
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