Journey of ‘Sawgrass’ the Swallow-tailed Kite

Sponsored by St. Petersburg Audubon Society in collaboration with the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI)

- Dr. Gabe Vargo

Sawgrass with Transmitter


Sawgrass the Swallow-tailed Kite has returned to Pinellas County ‘s Sawgrass Lake Park after flying over 16,000 miles in ten months. Her entire migration track was from June 2016 through April 2017. 

While in in Georgia and North Carolina, she fed on insects to build up energy supplies for the migration before heading to South America. Taking the long route, she traveled across the Gulf of Mexico then followed the coastal areas of Central America down to an area in Bolivia where she spent several months. She started her northern migration in late January/early February. All went well until she arrived in southern Columbia where her transmitter started working intermittently.


Sawgrass entire journey

Google Earth track of Sawgrass entire journey

Next, we received data when she made it to Honduras. Then again lost contact until Sawgrass made landfall near Franklin County in the Florida panhandle. Subsequently she showed up in Sawgrass Lake Park, her point of origin. Shortly thereafter her transmitter downloaded all of the stored data so we now have her complete route from Columbia to Sawgrass Lake Park (see 1st photo).


From Colunmbia to Sawgrass Lake Park

Google Earth track of Sawgrass  from Columbia to Florida ©  ARCI

Becky Bartley photographed Sawgrass on April 13, 2017 at Sawgrass Lake Park (see above), just a day after we received the data from Sawgrass in the panhandle area.  She made it from north Florida to Sawgrass Lake Park in less than 24 hours.  The transmitter can be clearly seen on her back.


(3.30.17) After being out of touch for almost 3 weeks, Sawgrass finally passed over a cell tower. Currently, she is in Honduras and still heading north.


Wide view of 3-30-17

Wide view on 3.30.17

There is a long void of positions. However, I'm not sure why. From southern Colombia to the first position in Nicaragua took 17 days over a distance of 2526 kilometers. That's really hoofing - or flapping it!

Hopefully, there will be better cell tower coverage for the rest of the trip and we will have a better idea of where she will take off point for her flight over the Gulf. Then I hope for strong southerly winds to bring her home quickly.


Close up view on March 30

Wide view on 3.30.17


Sawgrass Northern Trek (3.1.17)

Sawgrass is headed north. Green points point indicate north route. She is currently in Northern Bolivia/western Brazil.  Refer to the blue dots for her southbound track is shown in blue dots.

Not many cell towers in the area over the past two weeks.  No new updates since March 1st.

Near western Brazil

Closeup view

Wide view

Wide view

Sawgrass Latest Activity (2.10.17)

Sawgrass, was at the east boarder of Paraguay. She stayed there a few weeks before continuing east northeast into Brazil where the majority of our GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites spent the winter season. She is now on a northward course following the same track of our other GPS-tracked birds that are ahead of her. She is 500 miles back from Palmetto, our second-to-farthest bird, and 1,400 miles from Bullfrog the Swallow-tailed Kite that is farthest north.  Interesting that Bullfrog and Sawgrass are our two birds that nested closest together in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, and they are the “book ends” of our 2017 migration story.    - Gina Kent

Sawgrass has traveled approximately 474 kilometers. See smaller red icons for the latest positions. From the last point in the lower cluster (Feb. 10) to the end point of the track on Feb. 13.    - Gabe Vargo

Sawgrass traveled 424 km from 2-10 to 2-13

Closeup view


Sawgrass' latest travels

Wide View

More updates as they become available.


Sawgrass In Paraguay (2.2.17)

Sawgrass as of Feb. 2 (blue data points) seems to have found an area that has food and shelter. Most of her excursions are within an 8 km area with the furthest points approximately 18 km out.

Select the image for a larger view.


Near Laguna Pora



Wider view of Sawgrass' location

Sawgrass In Bolivia/Paraguay (1.19.17)

A Google Earth (GE) image of Sawgrass' journey from Bolivia to the eastern border of Paraguay.

Jan 19th

The pink dots and line are the latest leg of the journey.  She traveled 374 kilometers on the last day of this trip.

Sawgrass in Argentina (1.11.17)

The latest positions for Sawgrass the Swallow-tailed Kite (STKI) as of Jan. 11, 2017. She has moved into a northern corner of Argentina. There's one wide view photo to show her general location, one close up for a better idea of the type of area she is in, and a final with a broad yellow line which shows the distance traveled on Jan. 8 - 43.26 km. She has then hung around this area west of some agricultural fields in N. Argentina.

Wide view (Click on image for a larger image.)

Wide view

Close view


Close view

Flight path

Sawgrass' flight path

Sawgrass along Bolivia and Peru border (12. 27.16)

Sawgrass finally checked in at the latest locations as of Dec. 27. Refer to the blue dots.  Earlier locations are shown by the various colored lines.


Click on image for larger view.



Sawgrass in Bolivia (11.8.16)


Closeup of Sawgrass' travels

Closeup of Sawgrasses' travels

Sawgrass' overall flight.

Sawgrass at the border with Argentina. (10.31.16)


Over Columbia (9.16.16)


The latest info on Sawgrass with maps of her journey from Florida to southern Mexico from Aug. 9 through Aug.29.


The second map is of her journey from Southern Mexico to Panama from Aug. 29 to Sept. 16.

Sawgrasses' journey


Sawgrass latest route.


 
Route of Swallowed-tailed Kite

Route of Swallowed-tailed Kite



Sawgrass Story

Sawgrass, the Swallow-tailed Kite from Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Pete.

She is wearing a backpack transmitter It sends out GPS locations when she comes close to a cell phone tower (essentially a text message).  Her backpack will store GPS locations and download them at the next cell tower with a strong signal. 

If you want to sign up and receive daily updates, please send and email to
ARCI logo
Gina Kent (
ginakent@arcinst.org) 
stating that you are a SPAS member and would like to follow Sawgrass. She will send you daily updates. 

You need to have Google Earth or Google Earth Pro on your computer.  Just click on the "kmz" file and choose Google Earth to open and it will download the data points to GE.  Click on the file name in your locations list and choose "properties" to set the color of the data points and the connecting line.

If you have any questions, drop me an email.

Cheers!

Dr. Gabe Vargo
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