ELIZA: white-tailed kite
Eliza was found as a chick in the Davis area on July 7, 2016. Jays had been seen attacking the kites' nest and throwing the baby out. The chick was brought to the UC Davis Veterinary medicine Teaching Hospital, where X-rays and palpitation showed she had a broken right coracoid (one of the bones in the avian shoulder) and a broken right clavicle (which, in birds, is part of the "whishbone" or furcula). Neither of these injuries can be treated except by confinement in a small cage to restrict movement while they heal.
After her bones were once more strong and whole, Eliza showed a severe wing droop on the left and was deemed non-releasable. Kites hover to hunt, and an imperfectly healed wing bone is often not strong enough to sustain this activity.
Eliza shares an enclosure with our other white-tailed kite, Elana. Eliza quickly proved to be very calm, and we decided to see if she was amenable to training as an Education Ambassador. This training came easily to her, and today she comes out for on-site events at the Center.
As a juvenile, Eliza still has a few reddish-brown feathers on her body and pale yellow eyes. She is already showing part of the adult's elegant black and white plumage, and within the next year or so, she will develop the characteristic brilliant red or orange eyes of the adult white-tailed kite.
As with most raptors, female white-tailed kites are larger than the males and owing to her weight, we believe Eliza is a female.