Friday, April 24, 2020

Sawgrass returns for the 4th time!

Sawgrass returns for the 4th time! A GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kite from Pinellas County Florida.

Sawgrass, a female Swallow-tailed Kite, was tagged in 2016 at Sawgrass Lake Park. Our longest-tracked Swallow-tailed Kite, we have been with her through triumph and failure. Her nests have failed the last two years while nesting in Pinellas County, but her perseverance has allowed her to escape predators and illness to complete four 10,000-mile migrations to South America and back!

Sawgrass wintered in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil and started north on 7 February. Her route took her along the east side of the Andes Mountains and down to the Colombian coastal plane, where she cut across the Pacific Ocean to Panama. Another over-water shortcut was between the northern coast of Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico. She spent the night at the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, then launched 29 March on a tail wind that took her due north, arriving 37 hours later on the Gulf coast of Mississippi. Once on land, she obviously knew the route back to Pinellas County, taking a few shortcuts to arrive “home” fast, on 1 April. We are watching her movements closely to see where she will settle into a nesting location. Sawgrass seems to be focusing this time on the Safety Harbor area. Let’s hope this harbor is, indeed, a safe place for her to fledge her chicks.

We are grateful to Pinellas County Parks for their interest and access, and for the very generous monetary support of the St. Petersburg Audubon Society (SPAS), which has made this long-term tracking effort possible. We are excited to be contributing to SPAS’s Raptors on the Move program, which gives local teachers and students the opportunity to use Sawgrass’s tracking data in classrooms. If you are an educator and would like more information on this program, contact