Thursday, October 15, 2020

GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites check in from South America

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

Since the beginning of September, these Swallow-tailed Kites have been in and out of cell service as they cross the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Basin, therefore, the data uploads have been spotty. Some birds have not checked in for a while, so our fingers are crossed until they are “out of the woods” and upload their location data again.

Photo Credit:  A. Kent.

Five of the kites are on or near their wintering grounds in Brazil. PBC-ERM male is the farthest south in Mato Grosso, Brazil.  Four kites, Ponchitolawa, Pritchard, Apopka, and Suwannee are in the State of Rondônia, Brazil.

We recently received data from Sarasota who had been out of cell service in the Peruvian rainforest since early September.  He is now in the State of Acre, Brazil.

We await data from four kites that last uploaded their data in Colombia (Jeaga 2, Sanibel South, and Sawgrass) or Panama (Jeaga 1).


Not pictured is Jeaga 3, a kite that last uploaded data 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 more dangerous than normal for many of these tracked Swallow-tailed Kites due to unfavorable winds.

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, their use of stopover and wintering areas, and how their movements change over time. Contributors supporting this year’s kites include:

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