Museum Minute: Swallow-Tail Kite Bird

Mar 4, 2019

Credit Nathan Horton / Draper Natural History Museum

At one point in time, the swallow-tail kite bird was a common species in the Great Plains, including eastern Wyoming.

But Dr. Charles Preston, the former curator of the Draper Natural History Museum, said they no longer are found in this region.

“They’ve disappeared now. You won’t be able to find a swallow-tail kite here now,” said Preston. “There’s no evidence that one was ever here.”

Preston said they exist around the Gulf Coast but are completely eliminated from the Great Plains. He said it's probably a result of their major food, the mountain locus, disappearing. The mountain locus’ population deteriorated in the Great Plains because of modern technology like agricultural pesticides.

But Preston said the museum has a specimen of the swallow-tail kite that was collected in 1899 from Nebraska that proves they were once in this region.

“A great example of how natural history museum scientific collections really preserve a record of life on earth,” said Preston.