COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Ohio birdwatchers have discovered the nest of a rare Mississippi kite raptor, proving the birds are returning to a former habitat, researchers say.
A nesting pair with two juvenile kites has been discovered in Hocking County, The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday.
"This is hugely important," Jim McCormac of the Ohio Division of Wildlife said. "They are charismatic and very cool, but more importantly, it represents a recovery of habitat."
The Mississippi kite is about the size of a peregrine falcon, and hunts insects on the fly, swooping down on its prey at 70 mph.
McCormac said he believes the bird used to breed in Ohio centuries ago.
"I'm convinced that they were in Ohio, pre-settlement, but that their habitat was wiped out," McCormac said. "This thing got knocked out of Ohio. This rebound effect took a long time."
"What this is is a conservation success story," he said. "These birds are showing up in a lot of new places in the north, re-expanding their range into former breeding areas."