Sunday, September 13, 2020

Swallow-tailed Kites across the Andes Mountains!

ARCI is tracking 11 Swallow-tailed Kites with GPS transmitters. One male, Ponchitolawa, was tagged in Louisiana by Dr. Jennifer Coulson of Orleans Audubon.

WAY in the lead on southbound migration is Pritchard, a male Swallow-tailed Kite from Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina. He is already through the Amazon basin and now in Rondônia, Brazil.

Having made a safe mountain crossing over the Andes, Sawgrass and Suwannee are 1,200 miles behind Pritchard in agricultural areas east of the Andes in Colombia.

Three kites are in the ranks to cross the Andes mountains soon: Jeaga 2, Ponchitolawa and Sarasota.  Not far behind them, three more birds are cruising through the Darien of Panama: PBC-ERM male, Apopka, and Sanibel South.


Trailing 400 miles back, Jeaga 1 moves through the east coast of Nicaragua after weeks of stopover behavior in southern Belize.

Not pictured is our missing kite, Jeaga 3, last reporting 11 miles from the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico. We have grown less optimistic that we will receive a signal from her. Migration is a risky endeavor for 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 due to unfavorable winds.

We wish all Swallow-tailed Kites a safe journey through the high, cold, Andes Mountains so they can get to the prey-rich regions of the Amazon.

As always, we are very grateful to all the organizations and individuals who make ARCI’s long-term studies of Swallow-tailed Kites possible. Your support helps us understand how these beautiful birds complete their incredible journeys. Contributors supporting this year’s kites 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