Saturday, July 13, 2019

Swallow-tailed Kite Population Monitoring Surveys are BACK!

Every year since 1989, ARCI has conducted systematic aerial surveys to count Swallow-tailed Kites at more than 15 large pre-migration roosts during a 10-day window in late July. These roosts, some of which hold up to 4,000 birds, provide an extremely rare and valuable opportunity for long-term population monitoring of this imperiled species.

A smaller roost of Swallow-tailed Kites photographed by Margi Haas.

Pre-migration roosts are places where Swallow-tailed Kites form foraging aggregations and communal night roosts. By doing this they gain behavioral information from and communicate with each other to find swarms of insects and other prey to put on weight rapidly and prepare themselves for a 5,000 mile migration. 

From years of survey data we estimate that 90% of all kites that can be counted across seven southeastern states are roosting in Florida right now. However, we know we are missing kites that are NOT using these large roosts.

How many we are missing? 

This is where your help is so vitally important. You can help us increase the accuracy with which we are able to estimate the size of the entire United States population of Swallow-tailed Kites.

A perched kite sighted by Dick Brewer.

Participation is easy! On the 19th, 22nd, 25th, and 28th of July, look for kites in your area before 10 AM (before the birds leave the night roosts). Then report the date, time, location, number, and behavior of Swallow-tailed Kites you see 
with this Population Monitoring Survey (please don't use this form until the 19th). The form is responsive to your smart device, so you can even report from the field!

We look forward to including your sightings in the 2019 population estimate!

-The ARCI Team

Special thanks to these organizations and individuals for their financial support: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the Palm Beach Zoo and Fred and Charlotte Lohrer