Friday, July 13, 2018

Renewed Swallow-tailed Kite tracking in Jacksonville, Florida


We could not be more grateful to the Jacksonville Zoo for supporting our Swallow-tailed Kite research! They funded both the tagging and tracking of a new adult Swallow-tailed Kite AND our Swallow-tailed Kite population monitoring flights coming up this July. 

Jacksonville Zoo's Donna Bear releases Swallow-tailed Kite
JAX, who now carries a GSM/GPS transmitter.

ARCI had not tagged a Swallow-tailed Kite in the Jacksonville area since 2012 (the last kite was Pace, tracked from 2012-2016), so we were unaware of any current nesting areas where kites could be found reliably. That was not a problem for the staff at Jacksonville Zoo, who led us to a perfect Swallow-tailed Kite nest site in northern Duval County, Florida.

With hard work and a bit of luck, ARCI’s Ken Meyer and Gina Kent, accompanied by Jacksonville Zoo’s Donna Bear, successfully outfitted a healthy Swallow-tailed Kite, nicknamed JAX, with a GSM/GPS transmitter. JAX, short for Jacksonville, is the sole representative for North Florida in our tracking program, and we hope to follow its success for years to come. JAX remains in Duval County, Florida for now.

ARCI's Ken Meyer and Gina Kent agree on the placement of the transmitter. A falconer's hood
is placed on the kite's head to keep the bird calm during the tagging process.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A New Swallow-tailed Kite Joins ARCI’s Tracking Program



It is a wonderful feeling to watch a Swallow-tailed Kite fly strongly away after it was successfully fitted with a transmitter. One mid-afternoon in early June, after the dark thunderclouds that frequent Florida’s summer skies had rolled through and the drizzle of rain had given us a reprieve, ARCI, staff from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (FPNWR), and members of the Caloosa Bird Club all experienced that feeling. FPNWR biologist Mark Danaher released the graceful, black-and-white raptor (see above video) and we cheered as we watched it turn into a silhouette in the cloudy sky.

ARCI's Gina Kent carries Okaloacoochee to our work station after
quickly removing the bird from the mist net.

That silhouette is now known as Okaloacoochee (OK for short). Tagged in Collier County, Florida, south of Okaloacoochee Slough, OK now wears a GPS/GSM tracking unit that will show us its daily movements and migration patterns. We do not yet know if the kite is male or female. With the GPS data we have already received, Mark was able to locate its nest, and to date, Okaloachoochee is in that same nesting area.

Left: Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge staff and members
 of Caloosa Bird Club look on as ARCI fits OK with a transmitter.
 Right: Okaloacoochee's new GPS/GSM transmitter by Ecotone Telemetry.

We would like to thank the Friends of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and the Caloosa Bird Club for their generous support enabling the tagging and tracking of Okaloacoochee.