Friday, March 10, 2017

In the spotlight: MIA

When MIA reached Cuba after changing course to avoid headwinds over the Gulf, we assumed he would be on his Miami nest territory within hours of resuming his flight. We were wrong.  The winds improved a bit as he rested over land, from northwest to southeast, apparently encouraging him the evening of 6 March to head back out over the ocean. However, this meant that, instead of ending up in the Everglades within a few hours, he was carried west-northwestward, missing the Keys and winding up back over the Gulf. Fortunately, he had enough strength and just enough of a southerly component in the wind to reach the Delta National Wildlife Refuge on 6 March, where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. MIA then turned northward, crossing Chandeleur Sound to find refuge in a small, wooded area near Biloxi, Mississippi. Watching this drama unfold makes it easy to understand why northbound migration is the most dangerous time of the year for the Swallow-tailed Kites that nest in the United States.

Watch MIA cross the Gulf of Mexico in this short video:

To increase the resolution of the video, click the gear icon and select 1080p (HD).

On 26 February, MIA was traveling through Nicaragua. Wasting no time in reaching the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, he immediately began to cross the Gulf of Mexico. Interrupted by strong headwinds, MIA veered east to Cuba, taking a pit-stop necessary to wait for favorable crossing weather. But then, the winds shifted, and favorable tailwinds enabled MIA to make it safely to Louisiana. The remainder of the journey will be over land with plenty of resources along the way.