ROTM: Follow Sawgrass, the Swallow-tailed Kite

Dr. Gabe Vargo Raptors on the Move is sponsored by St. Petersburg Audubon Society in collaboration with the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI). For  information on this program, how to bring it into your classroom, or to receive regular updates on the birds' progress, click here.

Sawgrass Flight w Transmitter - B. BartleySawgrass in Flight - Bartley

ROTM: Following Sawgrass

01.09.18 Brazil Sawgrass has not sent us any data since Dec. 27, 2017 but the following two Google Earth photos will give you an idea of where she is and the type of environment she is enjoying.

She is in SW Brazil in the Mato Grosso dol Sul  ( means"Thick Bushes of the South") region which is both heavily forested and is also a major agricultural area.  Alas, very few cell towers.  As you can see in the second photo she is staying around fields of some type of crop.  The area grows soybeans, sugar cane, cotton, corn,as well as cattle. Obviously there are plenty of insects for our Swallow-tailed Kite!  Hopefully she will get close to a cell tower soon!

Sawgrass 12-27-17

Sawgrass 12-27-17

12.15.17 Finally ! More Data Finally got some data from Sawgrass!  I've attached one photo showing the general area of southern Brazil that she is still in and another that shows the type of landscape she is hunting and roosting in daily.  At least we have a check in to show she is still active.

Can't say the same for Dark Arrow.  No new data since Nov. 27.  The attached photo gives his location on that date.  He appears to have been on the golf course north of 62th Ave. N.  Did he leave? Find a better place? Just have to wait and see. 

12.14.17 Sawgrass

11.07.17 SAWGRASS IS BACK!  Sawgrass has reappeared! She is in western Brazil. Unfortunately we don't have her data from when she disappeared at the end of Aug. in Columbia until reappearing in Brazil. She spent a lot of time in one area which appears to be a major agricultural region. Probably plenty of insects. She then headed further south to another agricultural area . Hopefully the missing data will get downloaded at some point. However its good to know she is alive and well. Just hope the transmitter continues to function!

Here are two views - one that shows her reappearance in Brazil with the void in the data from Columbia southward and another that shows the farmland area where she spent almost 3 weeks before heading further south.

Sawgrass 11-6-17

Sawgrass 11-6-17 detail

10.24.17 We have no update from Sawgrass.  We may not have an answer until spring when she would normally turn up at Sawgrass Lake Park.

10.3.17 No data has been uploaded since 8.31.17, however, Sawgrass is in a location nearly devoid of cell towers. Gina Kent, ARCI,  tells us that it isn't uncommon for birds in such areas to not report for over a month.

8.28.17 Sawgrass is progressing south and is now in Panama. She is following her track from last year throughout Central America. We'll see what her direction is after she gets through Columbia. Will she go back to Bolivia as she did last year or head to Brazil where many STKI from Florida spend the winter?

Sawgrass 8.28.17

8.14.17 Sawgrass did a perfect migration flying south through Florida, across the Florida Straits to Cuba, along the length of Cuba and across the Yucatan Channel to Mexico. She then followed the coast to Belize where she seems to have stopped for a couple of days.

Sawgrass 8.14.17

(6.16 - 4.17) 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

(3.1.17) Sawgrass Northern Trek  
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

(2.10.17) Sawgrass Latest Activity 

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.

(2.2.17) Sawgrass In Paraguay 

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

 (1.19.17) Sawgrass In Bolivia/Paraguay
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.

(1.11.17)  Sawgrass in Argentina 

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

(12. 27.16) Sawgrass along Bolivia and Peru border  

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.

(11.8.16) Sawgrass in Bolivia 

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