A Refuge for the Soaring Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow Tailed Kite raptor soaring in the blue skies above the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia USA. March 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

After several trips to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge that ended in a bust, I was really hoping this trek would finally result in a decent Swallow-tailed Kite photograph. But once again, it appeared that I was leaving the Okefenokee Swamp disappointed.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is located in Georgia near along the Florida line in the southeastern United States. It is a wonderfully huge wetland that has been protected since the mid-1900s after logging had nearly obliterated the habitat. It is now a refuge for all types of wildlife, including the Swallow-tailed Kite.

Entering National Wilderness Area kayak Canoe trail direction sign Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USA. May 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

Swallow-tailed Kites, Elanoides forficatus, are a raptor (bird of prey). They breed in the southeastern United States and according to the eBird illustrated checklist, are found in the Okefenokee from March through August. The Cornell Ornithology website beautifully describes it as, “a graceful, uniquely shaped raptor with long, narrow wings and deeply forked tail.” It favors wet habitats around rivers and ponds and nest in tall pines and cypress, making the Okefenokee Swamp a perfect place to spot them! ​

But once again, another spring excursion ends without a kite photograph. We had even packed up camp, loaded the canoe on the trailer, and were driving the long road out of the refuge when I spotted it! Not far from the boundary of the NWR soared a beautiful kite in the open, blue skies. It was the final photo of our final day on this March 2020 trip to the Okefenokee!

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/47757050

eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S69098863


  1. Very Nice William! We liked photographing Swallow-tailed Kites at Lake Woodruff NWR in DeLand Florida. But only saw a few in the distance on our last trip months ago. Glad you got your image finally! Sometimes it just seems to go that way!

    Liked by 1 person

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