Thursday, September 3, 2020

Kites are cruising through Central America!

Ponchitolowa, a GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kite tagged in Louisiana by Dr. Jennifer Coulson, made a fantastic migration from Louisiana across the Gulf of Mexico to Veracruz, Mexico ahead of the disastrous hurricanes that came ashore from the northern Gulf shore. Ponchitolowa continued safely through Mexico and is now moving through southern Belize. We hope our friends and supporters there are doing as well as can be hoped for in the wake of Hurricane Laura. 

Speaking of being safe, our “missing” Swallow-tailed Kite, Jeaga 3 remains missing, having last reported about 11 miles off of the western Gulf coast of Mexico. We have grown less optimistic that we will ever again receive a signal from her. Migration is always difficult and often very risky for all birds, especially those crossing large expanses of water. However, it appears that this year’s southbound crossing of the Gulf of Mexico was extra dangerous for many of our tracked Swallow-tailed Kites. 


Sarasota has slowed down just south of Veracruz Mexico, probably enjoying good opportunities to feed on the local insects in the company of many other kites, including swallow-tails and Mississippi Kites.

Jeaga 1 is still spending her stop-over time ranging throughout the Toledo District of Belize.

Jeaga 2 and Sanibel South continue to make steady southbound progress and have just crossed the Honduras/Nicaragua border.

Sawgrass from Pinellas County, Florida, had an easy trip across the Gulf of Mexico, using western Cuba for a one-night stopover before passing through the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and continuing on into Panama. 

Also in Panama, just ahead of Sawgrass, are Apopka, Pritchard, and PBC-ERM male. It looks like their next challenge will be aerially traversing the high pass through the Andes Mountains in Colombia that has been used by most of the Swallow-tailed Kites we have tracked.

Well in the lead of all these birds is Suwannee, who has already crossed the Andes and is working his way southeastward through Colombia’s portion of the vast Amazon Basin!

As always, we are very grateful to all the organizations and individuals who have made ARCI’s long-term studies of Swallow-tailed Kites possible, thus helping us understand how these amazing birds need our help. The ever-growing list of current contributors includes:

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
Caloosa Bird Club
Clearwater Audubon Society
CROW - Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc.
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of Palmetto Bluff Conservancy
Friends of the Carlton Reserve
Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge
Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges
Halifax River Audubon
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge
National Audubon Society
Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society
Orange Audubon Society
Orleans Audubon Society
Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management
Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society
Palmetto Bluff Conservancy
Peace River Audubon Society
Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation SCCF
Sarasota Audubon Society
Seminole Audubon Society

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
St. Petersburg Audubon Society
Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation
The Avian Reconditioning Center for Birds of Prey
Venice Area Audubon Society
West Volusia Audubon