St. Joseph Island

Calling Area Birders to Figure this Out

Calling Area Birders to Figure this Out

Faye Stevens has sent us a description of an unusual bird she spotted on the island and would like some help from area birders to identify it.

As I was driving down the 10th Sideroad, coming off "the mountain" on St Joseph Island the other day, I saw what I thought at first was a raven flying across the road ahead of me. To my surprise, as I began to see it from below it was clear there was a white band running lengthwise under each wing, and possibly joined across the breast, says Faye. 

Calling Area Birders to Figure this Out
stock photo of Swallow-tailed Kite.

Not being very familiar with bird types, I went to both Google and Peterson's Guide to North American Birds to see what I could learn. 
Although I saw nothing that matched exactly what I remembered seeing, I considered three possibilities, including the short-tailed hawk, which I later ruled out, narrowing it down to a couple of  "maybes": the Northern Harrier and the Swallow-tailed Kite. 

Interestingly, the candidate that resembled it most but seemed most unlikely because of its reported range was the Swallow-tailed Kite.  My information tells me that it is usually found in Florida and South Carolina, but has been seen as far north as Minnesota.

I'm not sure about the tail of the bird I saw because I was concentrating on that white stripe and wondering if I were seeing things, but the picture of the rest of the Swallow-tailed Kite sure resembled it.

Calling Area Birders to Figure this Out
stock photo of Northern Harrier.

Wouldn't it be something if it indeed one had found its way here...maybe blown in by one of the east coast hurricanes?

I'm hoping some avid bird-watcher in the North Channel area can shed some light on what is a mystery to me. Looking forward to hearing some responses. Faye Stevens