Kite Tales - May 2017


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Kite Tales

the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail's monthly newsletter

painted bunting
Painted Bunting (male) by Jack Rogers

Upland breeding birds

Help report Florida’s rare upland birds

Help researchers and conservation biologists locate three rare bird species across the state. The Southeastern American kestrel, Florida burrowing owl, and painted bunting. The participation of citizen scientists (like you!) is critical when trying to monitor these species. By reporting your sightings, avian biologists will be able to generate species occurrence databases which will then be used to plan research projects and conservation initiatives. Thanks for your help!

Southeastern American kestrel

Kestrels sighted outside of the breeding season are usually migratory birds and not the Southeastern American kestrel. Please submit sightings during breeding season between May 1st and July 31st.

Report your kestrel sightings here

For more information about the Southeastern American kestrel

Painted Bunting

Bunting sightings will only be accepted during breeding season between May 1st and July 31st.

Report your painted bunting sightings here

For more information about painted buntings

For more information about reporting painted buntings outside of the breeding season

Florida Burrowing Owl

Please submit sightings during the breeding season between March 1st and June 30th.

Report your owl sightings here

For more information about Florida burrowing owls

gray-cheeked thrush by Don Faulkner c/o wikemedia commons

Incredible migrations!

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus, latin for ‘movement’) is an international collaborative research network that uses an automated radio telemetry array to track the movement and behavior of animals such as birds, bats, and large insects. The animals are affixed with radio transmitters that broadcast signals several times each minute. These signals are detected by automated radio telemetry stations that scan for signals 24/7, 365 days a year. When results from many stations are combined, the array can track animals across a diversity of landscapes covering thousands of kilometers.

In March and April 2015, 67 Swainson’s Thrushes and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were outfitted with radio-transmitters in Colombia. Researchers collected real-time data on their local movements in the Colombian Andes and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain ranges.

Four of these individuals were subsequently detected by Motus stations during their northbound spring migration, and a fifth on its breeding grounds on the coast of Hudson Bay. In one remarkable example, a Swainson’s Thrush tagged on March 19 remained at the study site, a shade-grown coffee plantation, until April 14. On May 18, it was detected flying by a small array of towers operated by the University of Saskatchewan and Environment Canada in Chaplin Lake, Saskatchewan. The thrush made an astounding journey of nearly 6000 km in just 34 days, flying at least 175 km per day for a month!

Two Colombia-tagged Gray-cheeked Thrushes were detected in Ontario. One, detected on the north shore of Lake Ontario, travelled 3674 km in 13 days – an impressive average of more than 280 km a day! The other flew 5300 km north to breeding grounds near Hudson Bay, and was detected one month after departing a Colombian study site.

The following link shows the migration tracks of 7 Swainson's and 30 Gray-cheeked Thrushes migrating from Colombia (South America) to their breeding ground in Canada during the spring of 2016.

big day

Global Big Day - May 13

Last year’s Global Big Day featured more than 60% of the world’s bird species in a single day, with sightings coming in from more than 17,500 eBirders spread across 154 countries. Thank you for making this possible. Want to be a part of the fun again? If you need an excuse to go enjoy birds on a lovely weekend day in May, we’ve got you covered. Read more for some tips on maximizing your Global Big Day experience.



NEW butterfly webpages!

Have you found the new GFBWT Butterfly page? Each beautiful button links to one of our Flickr albums.



  • Incredible migration
  • Upland birds
  • Butterfly webpages
  • Global Big Day


The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a network of 510 sites spread throughout the state. The Trail is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, supported in part by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The Trail is possible thanks to dozens of federal, state, and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private landowners. Continued, broad-based support and grassroots community investment will continue to make the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail a success for Florida and for our feathered friends. 



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