Friday, August 31, 2018

Follow the Kites!

While most of our 12 GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites have made it safely to Central and South America by now, two of our feathered friends are still working their way southward through their U.S. breeding range. Here is where our 12 tracked birds are today (see previous post for a recap on where the kites were tagged).

GPS locations on 29 August 2018 of 12 southbound Swallow-tailed Kites tracked by the Avian Research and Conservation Institute
Both Wilson and Pritchard had been lingering near their nests in southeastern South Carolina, foraging mainly on the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. On 23 August, Pritchard started south and quickly reach South Florida; although, this bird may already be over the Gulf as you read this note. Wilson left South Carolina just a few days ago, on 27 August.

Hobolochitto Creek has flown through Texas to Mexico and just passed through the famous Veracruz “River of Raptors” migration corridor.

Palmetto is nearing the Nicaraguan border.

JAX is following the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica southward.

Okaloacoochee’s (OK) last fix was in Panama, but OK is most likely deep into the Amazon and beyond sufficient cell coverage to upload the most recent location data. We are anxiously awaiting this kite’s next data upload.

Sarasota, Sawgrass, and Apopka are also in Panama. We expect to lose their signals for a while as they cross through very remote areas of the Andes Mountains and Amazon Basin.

We see that Babcock has made it safely through the Andes in southwestern Colombia. She must have taken a route close to cell towers.

Bayou Vincent and Lacombe (both with satellite transmitters, which don’t need a cellular network to communicate) took very different routes across the Gulf of Mexico but have been 15 to 50 miles apart since passing through Nicaragua. They now are near the border of Colombia and Peru. 

Check back with us over the next few weeks as we continue to update you on the migration of Swallow-tailed Kites to their South American wintering destinations.