A Visit to the Swallow-Tailed Kites on Powerline Road

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Every year in the summertime, the people on Birdbrains start talking about the kettles of Swallow-Tailed Kites on Powerline Road in Hernando County.   Last year I really wanted to go and see them, but I didn’t.  This year Dyeyo and I decided to drive out there to see what there was to see.

We found kites!  Not in the 75+ numbers as described on Birdbrains, but we easily saw 15-20.  They roosted in some distant trees, then flew over the grasslands, generally staying pretty far from the road.  Occasionally we’d luck out and one would fly towards us.

Swallow-Tailed Kite.  Powerline Road, Hernando County.
Swallow-Tailed Kite. Powerline Road, Hernando County.

Powerline Road is also known for Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrels, Burrowing Owls, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Red-Headed Woodpeckers.  We saw all these kinds of birds as we drove up and down. I love the song of the Eastern Bluebirds, so I made a video when one started singing on a powerline. It’s too bad it was so windy that day – you hear more wind than song!

The excitement about birding at Powerline Road illustrates clearly two distinct types of birders.

  • The first group is what I’ll call the “birdy birders.”  They are most interested in species counts, rare sightings, and bird behaviors.  Often you’ll see them with scopes (which put most camera lenses to shame, by the way!)
  • The other group is the “photographer birders.”  They are interested in getting the good shot.  They will stay with one flock (or one bird!) for hours, trying to capture the perfect expression or perfect behavior in the best possible light.
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Headed Woodpecker

Birdbrains tends to focus on “birdy birding.”  Sometimes photographers hear the descriptions from Birdbrains, get excited, and then find out that the location isn’t so photographer-friendly.  So for photographers reading about Powerline Road and wondering if it’s worth the trip, I’ll offer these tidbits:

  • Powerline Road is literally just a dirt road out in the middle of farm country.  Think birds on fenceposts and power lines.  To find it on Google maps, click here.
  • The birds are not amazing close to the road, unless you luck out and they fly overhead.
  • The road runs east to west.  That means you’ll have side light in both the morning and afternoon.  We opted to go on a cloudy day.  At least we had even light, although it wasn’t abundant.
  • Red-Headed Woodpeckers nest in the power line poles.
  • There are tons of butterflies along the roadside.  In early June there were plenty of small wildflowers.
  • The road runs through private property.  Please don’t get the landowners annoyed at all birders by climbing the fence.
  • With patience and a beanbag, I suspect there are some pretty good photo ops out there.
Butterfly and Wildflowers
Butterfly and Wildflowers. Enhanced with Topaz Simplify.

I’m looking forward to my return visit!

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