Friday, February 17, 2017

5,000 miles home

All six of our satellite-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites have left their South American winter ranges on their migration back to the breeding range in the southeastern U.S.  This map will give you a quick idea where they were as of 14 February 2017. 

GPS-tracking data for six Swallow-tailed Kites showing most recent locations
in South America on their northbound migration. 

Bullfrog, tagged near Florida’s Tampa Bay, remains in the lead, but MIA is only 100 miles behind.  Both are in the Amazon rainforest of northeastern Peru. Their tracks reveal a slow-down in this area, most likely to regain some fat reserves by feeding on the plentiful insects this lush forest has to offer. 

We are hoping that Panther is close to MIA and Bullfrog in the remote Amazon.  Although we have not received data from her in a few weeks, we are not yet alarmed because this area has very few human settlements with cell-phone coverage. The location depicted on the map was her last fix, which we received on 26 January 2017.

A little over 500 miles to the southeast of Panther is Lacombe, edging northward.  He is one of the four tracked kites that have not yet made it out of Brazil.

Palmetto is pushing northwestward, having passed through an extensive agricultural region in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.

In the last blog, Sawgrass was on the eastern border of Paraguay. She stayed there a few weeks before continuing east-northeast into Brazil, where the majority of our tracked kites spent our winter (summer there). Sawgrass is now northbound on the same track taken by our other tagged birds before her. She is 500 miles behind Palmetto and 1,400 miles from Bullfrog, the leader. It is interesting that Bullfrog and Sawgrass, the two Swallow-tailed Kites that nested closest to each other (near Florida’s Tampa Bay), are the “book ends” of our 2017 migration story.