We are relieved that all seven of our GPS/satellite-tracked
Swallow-tailed Kites made it back to the U.S safely from their winter
destinations in South America. As we have learned from previous years’
tracking, crossing the Gulf of Mexico can be a deadly endeavor for
|Locations of seven GPS/satellite-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites on 24 April 2015|
The concentrations of GPS locations suggest that all seven
tagged Swallow-tailed Kites are nesting. Day is using the exact same nest tree
as last year, which often happens. All the other kites are very close to where
they nested in 2014.
The South Carolina pair, Palmetto and Bluff, are together again. At this point, all the nests of tagged kites would be in the incubation or early nestling stage. Our tracking maps will continue to look about the same through mid-July. The males will be foraging as close as possible to their nests, while the females will finish incubating, tend to their small young, and remain nearby as the nestlings grow and learn to fly in the nest area.
Typically, nests are constructed at the tops of emergent pines (also maples, cypress and oaks) from cypress twigs and epiphytes like spanish moss and old man's beard. Although typically placed nests suffer exposure to wind and avian predators, they probably enjoy several advantages relative to lower nests: easier access (probably most important factor), more support from closely spaced limbs, less chance of damage from fire, and fewer mosquitoes. Broken and wind-thrown nests are a common cause of nesting failure. Nest material is added throughout the incubation and nestling stages to maintain or restore structure and perhaps to cover excrement. Consequently, nests become filled in and are flat or convex on top by the time of fledging (Meyer and Callopy 1990).
|Nestling Swallow-tailed Kites in a typical nest made of |
cypress twigs and epiphytes. (2011)
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