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The last week a bird of prey has been perching on a branch about 150 feet from my pigeon loft. I think the bird is a Mississippi Kite. If it is, are my pigeons in danger of it? The reading I do on the internet seems to indicate birds are not its main diet, but I don't want to let my pigeons out until I know a little more about it.

Here is a link to a photo of the bird http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7173485306/in/photostream
 

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A Mississippi kite is not likely to take a healthy, good flying pigeon. If you have pigeons that are not good flyers, there might be a small chance of losing one, what breed do you fly? If the kite is perching near your loft, more likely it is hunting insects, frogs etc.
 

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Predators are opportunists, and when they see a possible easy meal there's always the chance they will try for it, especially the young ones as they learn to look after themselves.

I would say there is essentially no risk from the kite with your homers that are strong enough to fly five miles home, but young homers not yet flown might be at some small risk.

Letting the young homers out for the first time when there's no birds of prey around is the safest way to get them started, and best if you can stay with them until they are safely back in the loft. Doesn't take them long to be quite strong on the wing though, then a kite would no longer consider them as a possible easy meal.
 

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I have Red-tailed hawks, Swainson's hawks, Ferruginous hawks, Kestrels, Harriers, Merlins, Turkey Vultures and sometimes a Bald Eagles perch near my loft, none of which are much of a threat to my pouters because mine are strong flyers.

All of these birds of prey and others though are a potential threat to pigeons that do not fly well, such as youngsters out for the first time, or breeds that are naturally poor flyers. Any predator that spots an easy meal is possibly going to pay attention, but only a few predators such as the Cooper's, Goshawk, Prairie falcon and Peregrine falcon are capable of taking a strong pigeon, although reports of Red-tails learning to catch easy pigeons in the citys are becoming more frequent.
 

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Yes, actually redtails are pretty 'adept' at killing Feral pigeons in cities.

I guess my point was....I would not relax just because it is a kite as opposed to nother type of bird of prey....
 

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Yes Red-tails are now adapting to life in the cities, and also they're learning that pigeons can sometimes be included on their menu.

But to keep this in context, keep in mind cities usually have many thousands of pigeons, and among those huge populations there's easy targets such as inexperienced youngsters and also starving birds. Generally speaking, a strong flying and experienced pigeon is not so likely to be caught by a Red-tail, except perhaps when the Red-tail can set up a high speed sneak attack that is characteristic of the accipiter hawks like the Cooper's and Gos.

Also, when you include the entire population of Red-tails in North America, only a small percentage of this large population live in cities. Red-tails are a very adaptable and opportunistic species, this is why they have populated almost all of the North American continent, and also why they've recently learned to exploit urban populations of C. livia.
 

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Sounds like they've figured out how to take advantage of an opportunity. A roller is very vulnerable when it's performing, to a hawk they look like a pigeon in distress, and predators are quick to realize a situation where their chance of success is high. I think this is another good example of how adaptable the Red-tailed hawk is, kind of the same reason why they have been so successfull at exploiting almost every available niche in N America.

Roller flyers must be the most targeted of all the pigeon flyers to birds of prey, unfortunately.
 
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