SAVING SWALLOW-TAILED KITES
Palm Beach Zoo staff participates in tagging adult STKs with solar telemetry along with aerial and pedestrian roost counts for long-term monitoring of the North American breeding population. The data collected is made available to wildlife agencies and private landowners to determine management of tall timbers and foraging sites.
Historically STKs bred in 16 states east of the Mississippi, now relegated to 6 states. Florida hosts 85% of nesting for this species making protection of the nesting and roosting sites key to the survival of this migratory population.
The primary investigators are our partners with Avian Research Conservation Institute (ARCI). Florida Power and Light (FPL) funds the solar packs that send telemetry information back to the team. Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management (ERM) assists with finding nests and providing access. Palm Beach Zoo staff, board, volunteers and the community are enlisted to participate in the studies.
Our Zoo avian team deploys our great horned owl to attract the kites and assists with catching and tagging while birders from all departments, volunteers and our community participate in the summer roost counts. Additionally, the Zoo funds the aerial nest counts conducted by ARCI. Although the locations of the roosts remain private, the migratory journey to South America becomes a powerful story-telling tool.
Annually, the field work begins in February and runs through August.