Some weeks ago (June 15) we had a newly hatched raptor come in to Wild Bird Rescue. Due to its small size and it being just a tad early for Mississippi Kites, it was tentatively identified as a kestrel. It developed slooooowly. Once baby kites started coming in and the little guys started to get some feathers, there began to be discussion about it possibly being a baby kite.
I am not convinced it is either a kite or a kestrel, but I don't know what it is. It is now too big and solid for a kestrel. It is slightly more solid than a kite. But a kite after 5 weeks would be ready to fly--this one is not. Also, when a kite's feathers start to come in, they are distinctly brownish with some grey tones. This little guy's feathers appear more of a steel gray, although there are one or two hints of brown. Also, a kite's downy feathers have a hint of buff to them, this one does not. It's beak is slightly more yellow than the other immature kites. Compared to a kite of approximately the same stage of development, he is slightly more heavy, his head is rounder and he seems to stand more horizontal than the more vertical aspect of the baby kites. He also doesn't make a kite sound--more of a hissy sigh.
Ideas? I am going to post a link to TEXBIRDS--there are a lot of experienced birders there.
We'll know in a few days or weeks probaby as he continues to feather out, but this makes an interesting challenge.