White-tail Kite Fly By

A white-tailed kite perches on a tree stump, surveying the landscape around it
A white-tailed kite perches on a tree stump, surveying the landscape around it

A little while ago I visited Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto, CA in order to get some photos of some of the white-tail kites that live there. And I was certainly not disappointed. I climbed a large hill in order to get above some of the trees on which they perch while they are not hunting. I quickly saw one of the kites and slowly made my way toward its tree.

A white-tailed kite perches on a tree branch, surveying the landscape around it
A white-tailed kite perches on a tree branch, surveying the landscape around it

With my eye glued to the view finder, I had my lens tight in on this bird, capturing shots of it flying up and back to various branches on the tree. Suddenly a dark form darted by just above the kite. Luckily, my photography training was to shoot first and ask questions later, and I capture a single frame of what I later saw to be another kite flying at the first one.

A male white-tail kite flies past a female, which reacts to his close proximity
A male white-tail kite flies past a female, which reacts to his close proximity

I quickly realized what was going on, as the male came in for another pass, this time reaching his target, and landing on top of the female.

A male white-tail kite approaches a female from behind and mates with it
A male white-tail kite approaches a female from behind and mates with it

The male quickly mated with the female, and just as quickly flew away. And before you ask, yes I do have photos, but hey, this is a family friendly blog!

A male white-tail kite approaches a female from behind and mates with it
A male white-tail kite approaches a female from behind and mates with it

I’ve never seen this before or since, and I definitely know that I wouldn’t have been able to capture these shots if I hadn’t already had the female framed and in focus. Sometimes you just get lucky….