Survivor

Of the three (or possibly four) White-tailed Kite chicks, this looks to be the sole survivor. As the video shows, one of its parents is paying attention to it, and possibly bringing food — although it also looks to be carrying food away.

Kite parent leaving nest

In any event, this chick does not look eager to test its wings. As in the fable, slow and steady wins the race. Two (or possibly three) of its nest mates left the nest, for whatever reason, before their wings were ready for flight.

One of them landed on the paved trail in the park near the porta-potties, as shown in this earlier video. A number of people, including raptor specialists John Davis and Mary Malec, worked hard and resourcefully to reunite it with its family. However, the bird did not have the strength to get back in the nest, and its parents could not or would not help. It died, probably of starvation, a few days later. I post this photo to underline that life for young raptors is a perilous thing; that they may be very much on their own before they are ready, and that one mistake, such as leaning too close to the edge of the nest or trying one’s wings before they’re ready, may have fatal consequence.

That left two chicks visible in the nest. One of them seemed to have strong wings and looked ready to fly. See Parent Visits, May 4.

The very next day, I happened on the scene and witnessed a raucous gang of crows attack one of the chicks in a tree some distance from the nest. See Murder by Crows, May 5. The chick apparently survived that attack. But later in the day, photographer Phil Rowntree came to the scene and saw a kite chick on the ground, trying to fly. It had the strength to flutter maybe 50 or 60 feet, but no sooner had it gained a bit of altitude than the mob of crows dive-bombed it and forced it back to the ground. The kite parents were absent. There was nothing that Phil could do. What happened to that chick, and to the fourth one if indeed there were four to begin with, is unknown. Possibly a bird rescue agency intervened.

As of May 11, the sole survivor chick shown in the video above remained visible in the nest, and appeared in good health, with its parent(s) visiting. It did not seem eager to try its wings. Smart. Stay as long as you can, young one. It’s a rough world out there.

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