Friday, November 6, 2009
Mexico, an Elder Statesman
One of the responsibilities that we have is providing the best possible care for our educational ambassadors. This includes being aware of any special care requirements for a particular species as well as the idiosyncracies of the different individuals. Such is the case with our elderly Mississippi Kite, whom we call Mexico, so named because the entire population flies south to Mexico, Central and South America for the winter. Mississippi Kites are insectivores that forage aerially for moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, flying ants and more. As the insects decline with the onset of cooler temperatures, so does the kite population. Mexico, already wearing adult plumage, arrived in 2000. This means that he is at least 11 years old now, the upper limit of a life span of a wild Mississippi Kite. He is not equipped to winter outdoors. During the fall as nighttime temperatures drop, he is only outside during mid-day, and by November he is a permanent indoor resident. However, he seems to take it all in stride and easily transitions to his indoor environment near a sunny window with several perches, a water pan, and food stump. In fact, he seems so comfortable that he spends much of the winter months courting his human companion and artfully arranging towels and stuffed toys in a nestful sort of way.