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Great Kiskadee Photos

Photography by Terry Sohl

My Favorite:  As I write this, I've never been to far southern Texas since I started birding. I haven't been in Mexico since I started birding.  Yet I have many Great Kiskadee photos, thanks to a VERY lost bird that decided to spend the last several months of its life in cold South Dakota.  In 2015, the family at a farmstead near Volga, South Dakota noticed a large, very colorful bird they'd never seen before. The family said that during the summer, there were 2, and possibly 3 of these birds, but they didn't realize how unusual they were for the area.  By November, one was still hanging around, and they snapped a photo that was shared, eventually reaching attendees at a South Dakota Ornithological Union meeting that that far way.  Realizing what they were seeing in the photo, many attendees departed for Volga, where sure enough, this gorgeous Great Kiskadee was hanging around in the cold fall weather. 

I went up on December 2nd, and the bird was very easy to find.  There had recently been a snowfall of 6 inches or so, making this large, bright yellow, tropical-looking bird stand out even more than he already did.  He wasn't bashful, hanging around in the area around the farmhouse, occasionally visiting the cattle tank for water.  The family became very immersed in the well-being of the bird, graciously hosting birders from across the area who came to see it.  They created a "shelter" for the bird if it wanted to use it. They put out water. They put out food, but not knowing what it ate, tried everything from cat food, to minnows from a local bait shop.  The bird persisted into January, 2016, enduring sub-zero temperatures for long periods of time, but alas, Great Kiskadees are not meant to live in South Dakota. It was found dead later in the month. 

It certainly provided a thrill for local birders, but it's still unknown how or why it ended up in South Dakota, particularly if the family's initial reports were true and there were 2 or 3 individuals over the summer.  Only one Great Kiskadee had ever been seen north of Oklahoma, and that was way down in central Kansas, making this a truly unusual sighting. I'm glad I was able to see the bird and get some very nice photos.

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee 1

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 2

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 3

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee 4

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 5

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 6

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus

Great Kiskadee 7

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 8

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Great Kiskadee 9

December 2nd, 2015

Near Volga, South Dakota

Click here for the species description page for the Great Kiskadee


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