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I'm a Science Teacher, Nature Photographer, Husband, Father, and Grandfather who loves to explore the natural world by traveling, photographing and thinking. 


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Photo of the Week October 10-16

Greetings! This week's Photo of the Week (POTW) was a surprise to me. This photograph was seen on my site and then shared widely. As a result, the attention it received outstripped every other image on site as it garnered a stunning 35% of all hits to the website this week! (Our usual POTW has about 8-10% of the hits.) I always find it fascinating to learn where folks encounter my images and how they find their way to Blue Lion Photos. If you have never met me but found your way here, I'd love to get an email to hear of how you discovered Blue Lion Photos!

Yellow Billed KiteCenter for Birds of Prey, Awendaw, South Carolina
Click in the image for a higher resolution version

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.

As an added bonus, I am posting this video clip (courtesy of which shows activity of young Yellow Billed Kite Chicks around their nest in South Africa.

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!

Thanks for visiting!

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