Bonham -- If you feel like eyes are following you as you walk through Powder Creek Park, maybe you're right; the Mississippi kites are back in town. No, it's not a gang, at least not in the sense we usually think of a gang, and you are safe as long as you don't look like a dragonfly.
This gang is comprised of sleek raptors that spend their winters in South America and then fly around Bonham all summer. Not a bad life for our Mississippi kites.
And they have shown a propensity to adapt quickly; in recent years these birds have shown a greater tendency to raise their young in urban settings because many natural enemies, such as owls, are less likely to be lurking in cities.
With a breeding range predominantly in the Deep South and the southern half of the Great Plains, Mississippi kites appear to be increasing in population and expanding their range.
Mississippi kites have been showing up in Bonham in increasing numbers for the past five or six years. The sleek gray raptor feeds primarily on large flying insects, with dragonflies and grasshoppers often falling victim to the swift aerial hunters. A kite will swoop in and latch onto prey with its talons and enjoy a snack in midair.
According to Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, as the onset of cool fall weather brings a diminishing number of flying insects, Mississippi kites gather in large flocks and funnel through the south tip of Texas on their way to winter in South America.
For those who would like a closer look at Mississippi kites, a walk around Powder Creek Park any morning or late afternoon should do the trick and the birds' shapely silhouettes can usually be seen soaring above downtown Bonham.