Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A comparison of migration routes

Migration routes used by eastern versus western subpopulations

Swallow-tailed Kites that nest in the eastern portion of the species’ U.S. range (South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) cross the Gulf of Mexico during their spring and fall migrations, but their routes differ depending on the season. Migrating southward at the end of the nesting season, they fly from southwestern Florida to the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico either directly or with brief stops on Cuba. When they return in the spring, they depart from the Yucatan Peninsula and make landfall somewhere along the northern Gulf coast, from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.

During their spring or fall migrations, Swallow-tailed Kites from the western subpopulation (Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) may fly across the Gulf of Mexico (See Slidell) or travel entirely overland (See Pearl MS), following the Gulf coastline through Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico.

Our 8 satellite-tagged Swallow-tailed Kites, now settled into wintering locations in Southern Brazil and Bolivia, will start moving north in late January and early February. Watch to see whether Pearl MS and Slidell navigate across or around the Gulf and where the other birds come ashore when returning to their established nesting areas in February and March of 2014.
On their southbound migration, the eastern subpopulation of Swallow-tailed Kites fly from southwestern Florida to the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula. The western subpopulation migrates via on overland route through Mexico or by crossing the Gulf.