FWC Agreement No. 07003
Applied management practices to increase nesting success and productivity of Swallow-tailed Kites
Kenneth D. Meyer, Ph.D.
Gina M. Zimmerman, M.S.
Andy Day, Karen Dyer, Andrea Bowling, Chris Depkin, and Dan Cavenaugh
1 July 2007 â€“ 31 May 2010
22 June 2010
Meyer and Zimmerman
APPLIED MANAGEMENT PRACTICES TO INCREASE NESTING SUCCESS AND PRODUCTIVITY OF SWALLOWTAILED KITES KENNETH D. MEYER AND GINA M. ZIMMERMAN Avian Research and Conservation Institute, 411 N.E. 7 Street, Gainesville, Florida 32601 Date of final report: 22 June 2010 Agreement number: 07003 ABSTRACT: Prior to the 1900s, the Swallow-tailed Kite nested in 21 states, but a decline from 1880 to 1940 resulted in the present 1,500 to 2,500 pairs in 7 southeastern states. The species has no federal listing status but is considered of critical conservation concern by state and federal agencies. This project, for which Floridaâ€™s Wildlife Legacy Initiative provided 18% of the total cost, tested management practices previously identified as having the most potential for increasing productivity the U.S population. During 2 breeding seasons (2008 and 2009) and part of a third (2007), we implemented and determined the effectiveness of the following management practices at nest sites of Swallow-tailed Kites: constructing nest platforms and provisioning with Spanish moss to increase nesting effort in established nest neighborhoods; promoting new growth of nest material by transplanting Spanish moss to recently-used nesting neighborhoods; treating remnant nest structures prior to spring arrival to eliminate parasites and encourage reuse; installing metal predator shields on active nest trees; using playback surveys to detect Great Horned Owls near nesting neighborhoods; onsite training for forest-industry staff who will apply the techniques for expanding these practices; and placing nestlings in foster nests to determine the feasibility of supplementing natural nests with captive-reared young. Publication and distribution of management guidelines has been delayed due to lack of funding. Breeding adults occupied 4 (6%) of the 70 nest platforms constructed, indicating that Swallowtailed Kites will select and successfully nest on artificial structures, which can expand existing, productive concentrations of nesting kites. Over half (59%) of the supplemented Spanish moss remained and had increased in size during the year following provisioning. This practice is likely to increase the attractiveness of specific sites and speed the nest-building process. The difference in reuse rates for fumigated (48%) and untreated (14%) nests approached statistical significance, suggesting that fumigation, or the replacement of previously-used nests with clean, artificial structures, can increase reoccupation, saving considerable time and, thus, improving nesting success by facilitating earlier egg-laying. Predator shields appeared to be associated with greater nest success in Georgia when 2006 and 2008 data were combined. Our playback surveys revealed that Great Horned Owls were not a major predator of Swallow-tailed Kites in our Florida and Georgia study areas. Successful translocations of 2 nestlings from 2- to 1-bird broods of similar age demonstrated the feasibility of this approach for increasing productivity. The seminars and training sessions were very well received by diverse audiences. A broad segment of private and public land managers are eager to learn how to contribute to imperiled-species management. When funding permits, publication and distribution of the resulting management recommendations and guidelines will promote and inform Swallow-tailed Kite conservation across spatial scales, from the immediate nest site to the range-wide, landscape level. KEY WORDS Elanoides forficatus, nest management, nest platform, Swallow-tailed Kite.
Meyer and Zimmerman
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We are grateful for funding from the State Wildlife Grants program of Floridaâ€™s Wildlife Legacy Initiative, administered by Brian Branciforte, Laura Morse, and Kate Haley for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Thanks to the following for their competent and dedicated help with the fieldwork: Andy Day, Karen Dyer, Andrea Bowling, Jason Martin, Suzanne Beyeler, John Andrews, Chris Depkin, and Dan Cavanaugh. We also received generous assistance and in-kind support, including nearly 50 hours of helicopter time, from Brad Winn and Ed Watkins (pilot) of Georgia Department of Natural Resources; and logistical support from Laurel Barnhill, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Maria Whitehead, The Nature Conservancy, Craig Sasser, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Mark Danaher, U. S. Forest Service. The project benefited greatly from the access, logistical assistance, and supporting management data provided by Plum Creek Timber Company (PCT). We thank Steve Lowrimore, PCT Senior Forester, in particular for all his valuable help in the field and advice on implementing the project. Private citizens and agency staff contributed sighting reports that increased our sample sizes. We also are grateful for the matching financial support of FWCâ€™s Nongame Wildlife Grants Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and The Felburn Foundation.
Meyer and Zimmerman
TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................ 1 KEY WORDS ..................................................................................................................... 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS .................................................................................................... 3 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 4 Conservation Need .............................................................................................................. 4 Scope of this project............................................................................................................ 5 OBJECTIVES ..................................................................................................................... 6 METHODS ......................................................................................................................... 6 Nest Platforms ..................................................................................................................... 6 Supplementing Moss ........................................................................................................... 7 Eliminating Nest Parasites .................................................................................................. 8 Installing Predator Shields .................................................................................................. 8 Great Horned Owl Surveys ................................................................................................. 9 Orphan Fostering .............................................................................................................. 10 Workshops/Training ......................................................................................................... 11 Publish and Distribute Final Report and Management Guidelines ................................... 12 RESULTS ......................................................................................................................... 12 Nest Platforms ................................................................................................................... 12 Supplementing Moss ......................................................................................................... 13 Eliminating Nest Parasites ................................................................................................ 14 Installing Predator Shields ................................................................................................ 15 Great Horned Owl Surveys ............................................................................................... 17 Orphan Fostering .............................................................................................................. 17 Workshops/Training ......................................................................................................... 19 Publish and Distribute Final Report and Management Guidelines ................................... 19 DISCUSSION ................................................................................................................... 20 Nest Platforms ................................................................................................................... 20 Supplementing Moss ......................................................................................................... 20 Eliminating Nest Parasites ................................................................................................ 21 Installing Predator Shields ................................................................................................ 22 Great Horned Owl Surveys ............................................................................................... 22 Orphan Fostering .............................................................................................................. 23 Workshops/Training ......................................................................................................... 25 Publish and Distribute Final Report and Management Guidelines ................................... 26 LITERATURE CITED ..................................................................................................... 26
Meyer and Zimmerman
INTRODUCTION Conservation Need Prior to the 1900s, Swallow-tailed Kites nested in 21 states, but a decline from 1880 to 1940 resulted in the present 1,500 to 2,500 pairs in 7 southeastern states (ARCI, unpublished data). There is no evidence of an increase or reoccupation of former range (Robertson 1988). The Swallow-tailed Kite has no federal listing status but is considered of critical conservation concern by state agencies (Millsap et al. 1989), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners in Flight, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Although Swallowtailed Kites qualify for listing (Meyer and Collopy 1996), the Swallow-tailed Kite Conservation Alliance instead recommends seeking landowner cooperation to stabilize or increase the population. There are too few nests on public lands to assure persistence; industrial forests support most Swallow-tailed Kites (Meyer 2004a). In 2002, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Plum Creek Timber Company, and International Paper Company asked Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) to produce site-specific management recommendations and explore Candidate Conservation Agreements â€“ work which is ongoing. Management recommendations for U.S. timberlands based on >160 nest locations and detailed stand histories are nearly complete. Nesting habitat for Swallow-tailed Kites is not presently limiting. Associated foraging habitat has not been assessed, but quality may influence productivity (Meyer et al. 2004). Vulnerability stems from marginal demographic performance (survival and nest success) (Meyer 2004b), strong site fidelity, and complex social interactions. We also have evidence suggesting that nest material may be limiting in portions of the range (Meyer 1995). The present project applied management practices previously identified as the most
5 Meyer and Zimmerman likely, cost-effective ways to increase production for the U.S population of Swallow-tailed Kites. Strong philopatry and social behavior (Meyer 1995, Meyer 1998) require protection and enhancement of habitually-used nesting areas, which are at risk from intensive forest management and development. Population viability analyses (PVA; Ralls et al. 2002), however, show that, even in more protected areas, survival (Meyer 2005) and nest success are only marginally adequate for population persistence. No single intervention will assure population growth. Fortunately, however, our PVAs demonstrate the synergistic effects of concurrent improvements in critical demographic rates. Scope of this project Some of the results reported here are part of a demonstration project that will continue, with support from other sources, through at least the 2010 nesting season with concluding field observations, additional seminars and training workshops for land managers and foresters, and follow-up monitoring of treated sites. In addition to funding from Floridaâ€™s Wildlife Legacy Initiative (State Wildlife Grants administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), we received financial support from the Nongame Wildlife Grants Program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and The Felburn Foundation. In this final report to Floridaâ€™s Wildlife Legacy initiative, which provided 18% of the total project cost of $225,000, we present data from the 2007, 2008, and 2009 nesting seasons. When the overall project (funding from other sources) is complete in December 2010, our published recommendations and management instructions will lead land managers and citizen conservationists through affordable steps they can accomplish themselves to increase local Swallow-tailed Kite populations. Improvements will result regardless of scale, but as these efforts are applied more widely, the countryâ€™s Swallow-tailed
6 Meyer and Zimmerman Kite population will benefit proportionately. The forest industry can produce change at the largest scale.
OBJECTIVES 1. Construct nest platforms and provision with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) to increase nesting effort in established nest neighborhoods. 2. Promote new growth of nest material by transplanting Spanish moss to recently-used nesting neighborhoods. 3. Prior to spring arrival, treat remnant nest structures to eliminate parasites and encourage reuse. 4. Install metal predator shields on active nest trees. 5. Use playback surveys to detect great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) near nesting neighborhoods; translocate them wherever possible. 6. Translocate nestlings to foster nests to determine feasibility of supplementing natural nests with captive-reared juveniles (revised from original proposal to use orphaned nestlings). 7. Conduct workshops on swallow-tailed kite nest detection and stand management for foresters, loggers, and field staff of timber companies. [8. Upon completion of a complementary project, (Nongame Wildlife Grants Program, a source a source of matching funds, in December 2010, publish and distribute management guidelines.]
METHODS Nest platforms Before the migrating kites arrived each spring in 2008 and 2009, we constructed
7 Meyer and Zimmerman reinforced nest platforms using plastic-coated wire or flexible plastic mesh as a base. Rectangular sections were cut to about 40 x 25 cm and then crisscrossed with layers of small cypress and oak sticks lodged in the holes of the mesh. The sticks and mesh then were completely interwoven and covered (top and bottom) Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), with bits of old man’s beard (Usnea ramalilna) placed on the upper surface. Platform sites were selected in pine stands within 1.5 km of a previously-documented Swallow-tailed Kite nesting territory. Within a pine stand, we chose an appropriate tree for platform placement based on its apparent safety for climbing, suitable distance from the edge of the stand, the extent to which it emerged above and was separated from the surrounding trees, and the arrangement of limbs near the top of the tree (within 2 meters), which would serve as support. Once a climber was in the tree, they prepared the site by removing small branches to ensure that there was a clear path for arriving and departing adult kites. A bag containing a ready-made platform, additional sticks and moss, plastic fasteners (cable wraps or “zip ties”) was hoisted up to the climber. Once the platform was placed on supporting branches adjacent to the tree trunk , 2 to 5 zip-ties were strung through the mesh and attached to the trunk and branches to stabilize the structure and ensure it would not blow out of the tree. The zip-ties were concealed with more Spanish moss, and the gap under the platform was filled with sticks and moss, weaving them into the sticks and mesh of the platform. Finally, old man’s beard was placed in the cup formed by the top surface of the structure. Supplementing moss We placed Spanish moss in trees where we set platforms and fumigated old nests. All treated nests and platforms received additional Spanish moss on top of the structure. Additionally, 4 to 5 strands of moss were placed in branches around and hanging down from the structure to make the site more conspicuous to kites assessing potential nest trees.
Meyer and Zimmerman
Eliminating nest parasites Swallow-tailed Kites often reoccupy old nests soon after returning to their U.S. breeding range and may reuse them, presumably because reusing an existing structure would save substantial effort during their relatively short nesting season. In most cases, however, the kites abandon these nests before laying eggs. This may be due to the presence of parasites, which can debilitate adult and nestling birds (Merino et al. 2001). Prior to spring arrival in 2008, we treated previously-used nests with a quart of Carbaryl (a liquid version of Sevin dust) (FertiLome, Inc), generally considered safe on birds, to kill mites, lice, and other ectoparasites. The tree climbers, wearing plastic rain suits, latex gloves, a respirator, and a face shield, secured themselves at nest height while a bag with a quart spray bottle of carbaryl was raised to them. They then poured the contents of the bottle slowly over the top of the nest, soaking the sticks and remnant moss. After our experience treating nests chemically in 2008, we realized we were unable to uniformly apply the treatment and to be consistent among nests. We also were concerned about the safety of the climbers and birds exposed to the Carbaryl. In 2009, rather than chemical treatment, we addressed this objective by replacing natural nests with artificial platforms and nests as described above (in reference to installing them in previously unoccupied trees). This also provided the benefits of a fresh, intact structure relative to some of the one- or two-year old nests treated in 2008. Installing predator shields Our previous observations indicated that snakes and raccoons depredate Swallowtailed Kite nests as high as 30 m above the ground. Excluders can substantially improve nest success (e.g., Priddel et al. 2006). Aluminum roof flashing 0.9 m wide was fastened with
9 Meyer and Zimmerman nylon cable wraps around about half of the nest tees per state per year. Kites had to be incubating or have nestlings that were young enough not to pre-fledge to be eligible for flashing. Nest trees that were adjacent to 3 or more trees with branches overlapping those of the nest tree, potentially allowing snakes and mammals to reach the nest tree above a shield, were not flashed. The exceptions were where we felt that flashing on 1 or 2 adjacent, touching trees would eliminate the likelihood of crossover by predators. A coiled sheet of flashing was carried into the nest site, quietly unfurled on the tree as high as high as possible (reaching up from the ground), then secured with one or two cable wraps positioned to maximize the expanse of aluminum (without the protruding 4-millimeter edge of the cable wrap) that a snake would have to traverse to continue climbing upward. The seam was taped with duct tape and the bottom edge was taped to the tree, with any large gaps filled in with sticks and bark to prevent entrance by snakes.
Pruning sheers and an ax were used to remove
shrubs, vines and branches that were within 1.5 meters of the base of the tree. An average of 5 to 15 minutes were needed to complete the job, the latter when adjacent trees also had to be flashed. Great Horned Owl surveys Great Horned Owls are a major predator of Swallow-tailed Kites (Coulson 2006), often eradicating entire neighborhoods (2 to 4 nests) by killing adults and young. We used systematic playbacks of Great Horned Owl vocalizations to detect these birds, a method we had successfully used before in Florida and Georgia. We established 2 to 4 survey routes each in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina and conducted playbacks at 6 to 11 locations per route in 2008 and 2009. One of the Florida routes was on industrial timberland east of Gainesville where we have studied nesting Swallow-tailed Kites since 1997; the other 3 were in the Gulf Hammock area west of Gainesville (Figs 12 and 13), where most of our kite research has focused during that period.
10 Meyer and Zimmerman At each playback location, the observer played recorded vocalizations and listened for responding owls. Each route was repeated 4 times at 5 to 7-day intervals, with the direction reversed each time. All routes were completed between 1/2hr after sunset and 12:00 am. We did not survey in steady rain or high winds. Upon arrival at each site, without sound or lighting, we listened for owl activity for 2 minutes before playback. With the speaker on top of vehicle, we played the Great Horned Owl vocalizations for 2 minutes (male vocal first, female second), rotating the speaker 90 degrees every 45 seconds to be sure the call was broadcast in all directions. The observer listened an additional 5 minutes after the playback stopped, then used a spot light to search the area for owls that may have approached the speaker without calling. For each owl heard, we noted species, sex, and approximate distance and direction from the observer. Fostering nestlings This management technique has proven successful for other species, including raptors (Cade and Jones 1993, Powell and Cuthbert 1993). We originally proposed using orphaned nestlings that had come under the care of wildlife rehabilitators. However, no young of suitable age in releasable condition became available during the 2008 or 2009 nesting seasons. As a result, we modified this objective to translocate 2 or 3 young from natural broods of 2 to nests with single nestlings. We would have attempted this in 2009, but nest success was the lowest we have observed since 1988 and only one of the surviving nests, in an unclimbable tree, had a brood of 2. In 2010, we had a much larger sample of nests and average nesting success, thus providing adequate opportunities for translocating young. Nest monitoring indicated several nests suitable as donor and recipients based on nestling ages (old enough to thermoregulate),
11 Meyer and Zimmerman proximity (far enough apart to prevent the natural parents from hearing begging vocalizations from the recipient nests), accessibility and climbability (to speed the process). We moved nestling Swallow-tailed Kites from 2-bird broods to nests with a single young of similar age when the translocated nestlings were 18 to 20 days of age based on estimated hatch dates and appearance. This was about 45 to 50% of the way through the nestling stage, assuring that the nestlings were old enough to thermoregulate. Prior to placing the orphan in the first recipient nest, a small video camera with infrared illuminators was positioned above and to one side of the nest to permit 24-hour taped surveillance of the outcome. The nestlings were moved from the donor to the recipient nests before 10:00 hr by a climber ascending a rope previously placed in each tree. Pull-over ropes, to quickly reset the climbing ropes, were left in all 4 nest trees in case the orphans had to be replaced quickly in the donor nests. An observer monitored each recipient nest for the rest of the day after the transfer (from a distance, using a spotting scope) to confirm that adults returned to the nests to feed the young within 2 hours of the transfer and to watch for any abnormal nestling or parental behavior that might jeopardize the safety of either nestling in the recipient nests. The video camera allowed an observer to approach the recorder (which was placed at the base of the tree and linked to the nest camera with a long cable), connect a small monitor, and observe the nestlings and their behavior in real time to determine their condition. This Swallow-tailed Kite translocation was conducted under Scientific Collecting Permit Number MB12382A-0 from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Scientific Collecting Permit Number LSSC-10-00070 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Workshops and training sessions.
12 Meyer and Zimmerman Sessions included different combinations of indoor instruction and indoor presentations by ARCI staff and, at least half the time, Steve Lowrimore of Plum Creek Timber Co. Publish and distribute recommendations and management guidelines. See Results.
RESULTS In 2007, during trial fieldwork, 34 Swallow-tailed Kite nests were found and monitored from 20 March to 28 June in Florida. Of the 29 nests for which we determined fate, 19 were successful (65.5%) and 10 failed (34.5%). Eighteen of the nests were on Plum Creek Timber Co. land; 10 were on private, 5 on state, and 1 on National Wildlife Refuge lands (Table 1, Figures 1 and 2). There was no nest-searching effort in Georgia in 2007. In 2008, we found and monitored 51 nests in Florida from 17 March through 13 June (Table 2, Figs 3-6), and 21 in Georgia from 4 April to 16 June (Table 3, Figures 7-9). Nest success was exceptionally high in 2008, with only 8 failures (89% success) at the 70 (out of 76) nests at which fates were determined. In Florida, 34 nests were on Plum Creek Timber Co. land; 10 were on private, 4 on state, and 3 on federal properties (Table 2). In Georgia, nests were found either by helicopter (n = 17 during 8 flights) or from the ground (n = 4) (Table 3). One nest was not monitored because the land owner denied access. Nest Platforms During the 2007 pilot study, we constructed 5 nest platforms on Plum Creek Timber Co. land in Gulf Hammock (Levy County, Florida) from 16 to 21 March (Tables 4, Figures 1-2). Kites were seen in the vicinity of all 5 platforms, but none were occupied by nesting birds.
13 Meyer and Zimmerman By the time egg-laying began in 2008 (our cut-off time for installing these structures), we had placed 12 platforms in Florida and 13 in Georgia (Tables 5 and 6, Figures 3-9). With more focused effort than in 2007, we observed kites flying in the vicinity of at least 8 of the Florida platforms and 3 of the Georgia platforms. One pair made a nest in an adjacent tree (8 meters from the platform tree) in the same small stand, hatched eggs but failed when the nestlings were 10 to 18 days old. No remains or signs of predation were observed. However, 1 pair made use of an artificial nest structure in Florida and successfully fledged 2 young during the 2nd week of June. This was the first reported use of an artificial nest structure by Swallow-tailed Kites (and we are not aware that it has ever before been attempted). In 2009, we placed 20 platforms on Plum Creek Land in Florida (Table 7, Figure 10) and 20 in South Carolina (Table 8, Figure 11); 10 on Francis Marion National Forest, 3 on US Fish and Wildlife lands, 2 on The Nature Conservancy lands, 2 on Audubon property (county chapters), and 3 on private lands). One of the South Carolina artificial structures and 2 in Florida were adopted by kites, which laid eggs that subsequently hatched in all 3 nests, which also all fledged at least 1 young. Thus, we placed a total of 70 nest platforms in pine trees in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina from 2007 to 2009 (our goal was to construct 10 to 32 such structures). Supplementing Moss For each nest that we fumigated and each platform that we erected in a previously unused tree, we placed additional Spanish moss in the structures and hung more on surrounding limbs. We supplemented 10 nests sites with Spanish moss in 2007, all in Florida; and 43 in 2008, 23 of which were in Florida and 20 in Georgia, all by the first week of April. In 2009, 25 nest trees were supplemented in Florida and 16 in South Carolina.
14 Meyer and Zimmerman Our goal was to provide supplemental moss at a total of 10 to 20 nests (all state locations combined) only in the first full year of the study, and to make photographic comparisons between that year and the next to estimate tenacity and growth. Instead, we decided to increase the scope of this treatment because we had the time and opportunity to do so in the course of installing nest platforms and fumigating (or replacing) previously-used nests. Thus, we provisioned 94 nest sites with supplemented Spanish moss in the 3 states during 2007, 2008, and 2009 and made photographic comparisons for 36 randomly-selected sites in Florida between 2008 and 2009. No supplemental moss remained at 7 (19%) of the 36 sites after one year; the amount was judged to be the same or less after a year at 8 (22%) sites; and the mass of the provisioned moss appeared to have increased at 21 (59%) sites after 1 year. Eliminating Nest Parasites As a trial, 5 nests were fumigated in Gulf Hammock (Levy County, Florida) from 13 to 21 March 2007. Two of the nests were soon reoccupied by nesting kites (Table 4, Figures 1-2). We fumigated 10 nests in Florida and 7 in Georgia from 19 February through 20 March 2008 (Tables 5 and 6, Figures 3-9). Six of the 10 (60%) in Florida and 2 of the 7 (26%) in Georgia were reused (47%, states combined). Of the nests not reused after fumigation in Florida, 2 had failed during the egg stage in 2007 and one had been disturbed by nearby logging. Of the 51 nests found in Florida during 2008, 9 (19%) were 2007 structures not fumigated prior to the kitesâ€™ arrival and subsequently chosen for reuse. A sixth nest reused in 2008 had been fumigated and then reused in 2007 as well (i.e., it was used three years in a row, with fumigation prior to the second yearâ€™s use) (Table 2).
15 Meyer and Zimmerman Of the 6 fumigated nests reused by kites in Florida, only 1 failed in late egg/early nestling stage (Table 2). Two nests fledged 2 young each, while the other 3 produced 1 fledgling each. We could not assess nest reuse in Georgia in 2008 because no nesting data for Swallow-tailed Kites were collected in Georgia in 2007. However, 3 nests were reused from 2006, which included 2 that had been fumigated in 2006 (Table 3). One fumigated nest in Georgia failed, possibly due to logging operations close to the nest site, while the other fledged 1 young (Table 3). We approached parasite removal differently in Florida and South Carolina in 2009, in part because of the tree climbersâ€™ unacceptable level of exposure during treatment with the liquid pesticide, but also due to concerns about the uniformity of treatments among nests. Instead, we completely removed 6 old nest structures from active 2008 nests in late February and early March and replaced them with the same artificial platform nests used in trees where not nests had been built by kites (Table 7). Three of the 6 were reoccupied in 2009. In one case, a stand of trees with a nest used in 2008 was due to be cut before the migrating kites returned to Florida in 2009. We selected this nest as one for removal so that we could examine it for parasites and nest commensals. An artificial platform was not erected in its place. However, the scheduled harvesting did not take place before the kites returned. A pair of Swallow-tailed Kites subsequently built a new in the same tree where the previous yearâ€™s nest had been completely removed. Predator Shields In 2007, we flashed 8 of 35 nest trees in Florida and knew the outcomes of 28 of these nests. Success was 50% at flashed trees and 70% at unflashed trees in 2007 (Table 4, Figures 1-2).
16 Meyer and Zimmerman Twenty-five of the 51 nest trees in Florida were flashed during 2008 (Table 2, Figs 36). Due to some nest locations in open, thinned stands or in trees surrounded by thick brush, incubating birds were briefly flushed at 5 of the 25 treated nests. Technicians finished attaching the flashing and vacated the area as soon as possible. Flushed birds typically circled the tree low and called. As mentioned above, nest success was an exceptional 89% in Florida and Georgia (combined) during 2008. None of the failures were at the 5 nests where we flushed the incubating bird while installing the flashing. The small number of failed nests precluded a comparison of flashed and unflashed nest trees for 2008. Fifteen of the 21 nests in Georgia were flashed in 2008 and no incubating birds were flushed (Table 3, Figures 7-9). Eighteen of the 21 (86%) Georgia nests were successful in 2008; as in Florida, this unprecedented success rate made it unlikely that we would detect any difference in success between flashed and unflashed nest trees. Combining Florida and Georgia data for 2008, when overall nest success was exceptionally high (i.e., it was difficult to relate flashing to nest success), 88% of flashed trees and 89% of unflashed trees were successful. Combining the flashed/unflashed data for the 2007 and 2008 Florida nests, success did not differ significantly between flashed nests (79%) and unflashed (81%) nests. When we combine both statesâ€™ data for all 3 years (2006 in Georgia, 2007 in Florida, and 2008 in Georgia and Florida), success did not differ significantly between flashed (73%) and unflashed (75%) nest trees. However, data from a pilot study in Georgia in 2006, when 15 of 21 known-fate nests had been flashed and overall nest success was near average, success was 75% at flashed nests and 56% at unflashed nests. When 2006 and 2008 data from Georgia are combined, success was 82% in flashed nest trees versus 57% in unflashed trees. Success, however, did not differ significantly between treated and untreated nests in either comparison.
17 Meyer and Zimmerman Thus, we installed aluminum-flashing predator shields at a total of 113 out of 203 (57%) nests during 2007, 2008, and 2009 in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Our goal was to place shields around 50% of the nests found in all states. There were no significant differences in nesting success between flashed and unflashed trees. Great Horned Owl Surveys Each Florida route was surveyed twice in 2008. We detected only 1 probable Great Horned Owl, but confirmed a Barn Owl (Tyto alba), Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio), and 3 Barred Owls (Strix varia). Each of the 4 routes in Georgia were surveyed 3 times in 2008. Routes were adjacent to the Altamaha (north and south), Satilla (north and south), and St. Maryâ€™s (north, or Georgia side, only) rivers (Figure 14). One Great Horned Owl was confirmed in addition to 5 Barred Owls. Surveys on the 4 Florida routes, 4 times each in 2009, produced only 1 Great Horned Owl response. The 4 South Carolina surveys in 2009 also produced only 1 Great Horned Owl response. Overall, our Great Horned Owl surveys substantially exceeded the coverage (number of survey routes and number of replications) originally planned. Orphan Fostering We solicited orphaned Swallow-tailed Kites from wildlife rehabilitators and biologists, but none became available during the 2007, 2008, or 2009 nesting seasons. In 2010, we identified two pairs of donor/recipient nests, both on Plum Creek Timber Company land in Levy County, Florida (Figure 15). The first pair of nests were 9.5 kilometers apart. The donor nest was climbed first (Road 2-10G, Table 9) and both nestlings were weighed
18 Meyer and Zimmerman and banded. The smaller of the 2 was selected to move to the recipient nest (foster nestling); the larger was replaced in its nest within 25 minutes. The foster nestling was transported in a small pet carrier and was offered 12 immature mice (â€œpinkiesâ€?, mean weight about 1.5 grams), which it readily consumed. At the recipient nest, Road 31, the single nestling was lowered to the ground, weighed, but not banded so we could distinguish it from the foster nestling in the video image. We installed the video camera, cable, and recorder and confirmed it was operating correctly before placing both nestlings in the nest simultaneously. No aggression or conspicuous avoidance ensued. When an observer returned after 2 hours, both nestlings could be seen well from the ground, but the video camera was no longer aimed at the nest cup, as we had left it. One of the adult kites, probably the female based on behavior, was being extremely aggressive toward the camera, repeatedly diving and striking at it. Both nestlings appeared normal, so the observer left to monitor the nest from a distance to avoid disturbing the adult kite. The diving ceased within 10 minutes and eventually the observer left for the night. At 07:45 hours the next morning, both nestlings and the presumed adult female were clearly visible on the nest (from the distant observation point), suggesting that the adult had roosted with the young kites during the night. The adult left the nest 10 minutes later, returned 3 times and dove (presumably) at the camera, then left the area. Within 30 minutes, each nestling received 1 anole from each of 2 adults. However, the presumed female continued to dive intermittently, but very aggressively, at the camera. We decided to remove the camera and recording equipment and leave the area, which we accomplished by 10:45 hours. Frequent follow-up monitoring did not reveal any evidence of aggression between the foster young and its adoptive sibling, nor any such behavior by any adults toward the nestlings or the nest
19 Meyer and Zimmerman tree. Feeding appeared to be occurring normally, with no indication that either nestling was receiving proportionally less food than the other, The second pair of nests were 19.2 kilometers apart. The recipient nest was within a single nesting neighborhood (Meyer 1995) and about 250 meters from its nearest neighbor. The donor nest was climbed first (Road 2-10S, Table 9) and both nestlings were weighed and banded. The smaller nestling ate 5 immature mice and the larger ate 4. The smaller of the 2 nestlings was selected for translocation (foster nestling), and the larger was replaced in the nest within 50 minutes. The foster nestling was transported to the recipient nest, Coulter 102, in a small pet carrier. At the recipient nest, the single nestling was weighed and banded. It was 155 grams heavier and had more rust coloration in the emerging head coverts (i.e., appeared more advanced in age). The foster nestling ate 4 mice and the recipient ate 2 before being placed together in the recipient nest. As with the first translocation, there was no evidence of aggression by any of the birds for the remainder of that day and during frequent subsequent visits over the next two days. Feeding frequency and behavior also appeared normal. Workshops and training sessions From mid-2007 through May 2010, we conducted 21 workshops and training sessions to teach public and commercial foresters, land managers, biologists, and timber-harvest staff how to recognize Swallow-tailed Kite nesting activity, protect active sites, and improve nesting habitat conditions for the species. These field and classroom sessions included 1or more presentations for each of the following: Plum Creek Timber Co., International Paper, Inc., Florida Division of Forestry (DOF) annual meetings on Best Management Practices, Florida DOF continuing education programs, Florida DOF Master Logger Certification, the U. S. Forest Service at Francis Marion National Forest, the National Council for Air and Stream
20 Meyer and Zimmerman Improvement, private landowners with kite nesting activity in South Carolina, Georgiaâ€™s Wildlife Management Areas Staff, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Society of American Foresters. Publish and Distribute Final Report and Management Guidelines The recommendations and management guidelines resulting from the overall project, of which the present study was a part, will be submitted to FWCâ€™s Nongame Wildlife Grants Program (NWGP) by 15 December 2010 as an appendix to our final report, integrating all the complementary studies for this project. We originally proposed publishing and distributing this single, comprehensive document with funds from the NWGP agreement, but the costs were excluded from the budget with the understanding that we would seek the necessary funds with a separate proposal (to FWC or elsewhere). We have not yet secured funding but will continue to seek the needed support in 2011. The comprehensive report will be based on our previous research, the results reported here and under the NWGP agreement, our analyses of nest-site selection and fates relative to silvicultural treatments (the subject of a current project funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation), and a 3-state predictive model (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) that will guide land-use and conservation planning with regard to Swallow-tailed Kites (a current project funded by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service). DISCUSSION Nest Platforms From 2007 to 2009, we placed 70 nest platforms in pine trees in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, more than twice our goal of 10 to 32 artificial structures. Use amounted to 6%, but more importantly, the 4 occupied structures indicated that Swallow-tailed Kites will select and successfully nest on artificial structures. The occupancy rate improved over the 3 years (0, 1, and 3 nests, successively from 2007 to 2009), perhaps reflecting our
21 Meyer and Zimmerman improving ability to mimic natural nests and to select attractive trees and positions within each tree. This was a very encouraging result. We believe that the best way to increase Swallow-tailed Kite abundance and the security of the U. S. population is to selectively build out existing local and regional centers of nesting effort where landscape-level analyses have verified a sufficient amount of suitable nesting and foraging habitat. It also is becoming increasingly important to find ways to attract breeding Swallow-tailed Kites from vulnerable private lands, where most of them now nest, to publicly-managed conservation lands. Artificial nest structures, which we now know kites will accept and successfully use for nesting, can play a useful role in enabling and perhaps accelerating this process. Supplementing Moss Over half (59%) of the supplemented Spanish moss remained and had increased in size during the year following provisioning. With additional practice and more consistent care in placing the clumps of moss (particularly to help it adhere better to the tree limbs), the effects could be improved. We also realized that we could have placed more of the moss on lower limbs, where it would have been easier to obtain good adherence, without appreciably reducing its accessibility to kites searching for nest material. Having observed Swallowtailed Kite nest-building behavior for many years and realizing the importance of Spanish moss for both the structural integrity of nests and in the courtship and pair-bonding process, we believe that provisioning with Spanish moss is likely to increase the attractiveness of a particular site (e.g., to help lure a pair to an artificial nest platform in a novel site or to a parasite-free replacement nest where previous nesting occurred) and speed the nest-building process (previously-collected nesting data indicated that earlier-laying pairs are more likely to nest successfully [Meyer 1995]). Eliminating Nest Parasites
22 Meyer and Zimmerman From 2006 to 2009, we fumigated or replaced with new nest material 48 (56%) of the previous-years active nests (our proposed goal was 50%). Of these treated nests, 48% were reused in the season immediately following treatment. These results are based mainly on Florida nests because of larger samples and more consecutive years of nest-finding there. For comparison, in 2008, the year for which we have the most data, 14% of untreated nests were reused by Swallow-tailed Kites. Previously-reported reuse of untreated, natural nests was highest in the Big Cypress Swamp of south Florida, 25% (Meyer and Collopy 1996), but lower overall (10 to 15%) in central and northern Florida and in Georgia (K. Meyer, unpublished data). The rates of reuse for treated (48%) and untreated (14%) nests in the present study approached statistical significance (Fisher exact probability, p = 0.059), and there was no suggestion that this treatment negatively affected nesting outcomes. It appears that fumigation, or at least the replacement of previously-used nests with clean, human-built structures, can increase the rate of nest reuse, presumably saving the breeding kites considerable time and, thus, improving nesting success by facilitating earlier egg-laying (Meyer 1995). Installing Predator Shields Although there were no significant differences in nesting success between flashed and unflashed trees, analysis of the results was complicated by the unprecedented high nesting success in 2008. Although not statistically significant, flashed nest-trees appeared to be associated with greater nest success in Georgia when 2006 and 2008 data were combined. An additional year, especially one with more typical overall nesting success than in 2008, is more likely to indicate whether flashing applied as a predator shield is likely to increase nesting success. We also recommend a systematic effort, if at all possible (we found it very difficult), to control for tree and shrub vegetation adjacent to the shielded nest trees, which
23 Meyer and Zimmerman probably permitted climbing snakes to reach some nests in spite of the aluminum shields. It would be worth determining what, if any, benefits predator shields might provide for nesting Swallow-tailed Kites because they are easy and inexpensive to install and remove and could be worth the investment even if only a slight improvement in nesting success results. Great Horned Owl Surveys Our efforts were sufficient and the results consistent enough for us to conclude that Great Horned Owls are not a major predator of Swallow-tailed Kites in our Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina study areas. Great Horned Owls occur throughout the kiteâ€™s breeding range and have been documented as a frequent predator of nestling and nesting-adult Swallow-tailed Kites in Louisiana (Coulson 2006). Although we have observed many deaths of nestling and adult Swallow-tailed Kites over the years in Florida and Georgia apparently due to predation, we have never suspected that Great Horned Owls were the dominant cause, as they apparently are in Louisiana. Based on our surveys and general experience in Swallow-tailed Kite nesting habitat, Barred Owls are much more numerous and more likely than Great Horned Owls to be depredating nestling kites. The main difference is that Barred Owls, unlike the larger and stronger Great Horned Owl, would be limited to preying on small-to-medium-sized nestlings (during about the first two weeks of age) and probably would have relatively little chance of killing a brooding adult Swallow-tailed Kite. Apart from Coulsonâ€™s (2006) southern-Louisiana study area, and perhaps adjacent portions of the Swallow-tailed Kiteâ€™s breeding range in Mississippi, Great Horned Owls do not appear to be a management concern for nesting Swallow-tailed Kites and their young. The only likely exception might be in limited, local cases where natural nesting attempts, fostering efforts (i.e., translocations), or reintroductions that are part of an intensive, focused
24 Meyer and Zimmerman management effort in a small area (i.e., where the Swallow-tailed Kites are very rare and struggling to become established as breeding birds) become the target of individual Great Horned Owls. A response might be considered in such a situation, although there still would be ethical and legal factors to consider. A more likely scenario is that, in a given area, we might suspect that natural nesting efforts by Swallow-tailed Kites are being threatened by a greater abundance of Great Horned Owls. In these cases, it would be worth assessing the ways in which local habitat management may be contributing to the elevated threats of owl depredation. We have long suspected that the absence of nesting Swallow-tailed Kites in some apparently suitable mature pine forests adjacent to appropriate foraging habitat may be due to the notable lack of shrub and medium-stature trees in the under- and mid-story. Such exceptionally open, savannah-like pine stands, usually the result of frequent prescribed burning, may be the goal for many public-land managers, but these sites apparently do not attract Swallow-tailed Kites seeking nest sites. One reason may be the likely greater prevalence of avian predators, especially Great Horned Owls, which would feed on grounddwelling vertebrates, especially small mammals, in such pinelands. However, this is purely speculative. More study of the effects of habitat management on abundance of predators would be warranted in plant communities characteristic of Swallow-tailed Kite nest sites. Orphan Fostering For many years, aviculturists have expressed a strong interest in captive rearing Swallow-tailed Kites, if it could be justified for the sake of conservation and shown to be safe and effective. Our limited translocation effort indicated that healthy, captive-reared nestling Swallow-tailed Kites can be successfully introduced into natural foster nests with a single young as a means of bolstering local productivity. This might be particularly advisable where Swallow-tailed Kites are established on public conservation lands but would
25 Meyer and Zimmerman benefit from increased productivity. Other studies by the authors, supported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, have demonstrated that breeding recruitment in the U. S. population of Swallow-tailed Kites is poor due to relatively low first- and secondyear survival and delayed breeding (third or fourth year) (Meyer 2004b and 2005; K. Meyer, unpublished data). Population growth, furthermore, is particularly sensitive to nesting productivity (Meyer 2004b). Given the high breeding philopatry and site fidelity of Swallow-tailed Kites (Meyer 1995, K. Meyer, unpublished data), artificial increases in local productivity could benefit efforts to sustain or increase the present small, vulnerable U. S. population of Swallow-tailed Kites. Matching the ages of foster and recipient nestlings is probably vital to success of kite translocations. It also will be important to consider local histories of nest depredations and within-year breeding conditions. The Road 31 recipient nest was the only known kite nest in the area. However, the Coulter recipient nest was 1 of 5 in a local nesting neighborhood. In the 2 weeks prior to the translocation, 1 of the other 4 nests in the Coulter neighborhood was depredated by an unknown predator. Introducing an additional nestling to a natural brood of Swallow-tailed Kites could result in excessive begging vocalizations if one nestling receives too little food. This is more likely to happen when there is a large age disparity between the resident and orphan nestlings, or in years with particularly poor feeding conditions for adults. Excessive begging could increase the likelihood of depredation. Workshops/Training The seminars and training sessions were very well received by diverse audiences, contributing to the ease with which we have been able to arrange presentations. We have no way to assess how representative this reception would be of the timber industry in general, but it is clear that at least a broad segment of private and public land managers are not only
26 Meyer and Zimmerman interested but eager to learn of ways to contribute to imperiled-species management. No doubt they are aware that this can bring positive recognition to their organizations. However, their interest seems to be driven genuinely by a professional desire and commitment to manage their lands more holistically and sustainably. We have been surprised and encouraged by their overall response. Publish and Distribute Final Report and Management Guidelines Completion of this final objective will culminate a long-term effort to answer questions about the long-term management of Swallow-tailed Kites that will enable conservation across a range of spatial scales, from the immediate nest site to the range-wide, landscape level. As for the training objective referred to above, we have been strongly encouraged by the interest we have encountered among private and public forest managers and their eagerness to have guidelines and instructions for specific, feasible, and effective management tools for Swallow-tailed Kites.
LITERATURE CITED Cade, T. J., and C. G. Jones. 1993. Progress in restoration of the Mauritius Kestrel. Conservation Biology 7(1):169-175. Callaway, R. M., K. O. Reinhart, G. W. Moore, D. J. Moore, and S. C. Pennings. 2002. Epiphyte host preferences and host traits: mechanisms for species-specific interactions. Oecologia 132:221-230. Cely, J. 1979. Status of the Swallow-tailed Kite and factors affecting its distribution. Pp. 144150 in D. M. Forsythe and W. B. Ezell, Jr., editors. Proc. of the first South Carolina endangered species symposium. S.C. Wildl. and Mar. Resour. Dept., Columbia, S.C. 201pp. Coulson, J. A. 2006. Intraguild predation, low reproductive potential, and social behaviors that may be slowing the recovery of the northern Swallow-tailed Kite population. PhD dissertation. Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. Garth, R. E. 1964. The ecology of Spanish moss: Its growth and distribution. Ecology 45(3):470-481.
27 Meyer and Zimmerman Marino, S., J. Martinez, A. P. Moller, A. Barbosa, F. De Lope, F. R. Caabeiro. 2001. Physiological and haematological consequences of a novel parasite on the red-rumped swallow. International Journal of Parasitology 31:1,187-1,193. Meyer, K. D. 1995. Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus). In A. Poole and F. Gill, eds. The birds of North America, No. 138. Acadamy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and American Ornithologistsâ€™ Union, Washington, D. C. 24pp. ___ . 1998. Communal roosts of the American Swallow-tailed Kite in Florida: habitat associations, critical sites, and a technique for monitoring population status. Final Report NG90036, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. ___. 2004a. Conservation and management of the Swallow-tailed Kite. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___. 2004b. Demography, dispersal, and migration of the Swallow-tailed Kite. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___. 2005. Survival and fecundity of adult Swallow-tailed Kites breeding in Florida. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___, S. M. McGehee, and M. W. Collopy. 2004. Food deliveries at Swallow-tailed Kite nests in southern Florida. Condor 106:171-176. ___, and M. W. Collopy. 1996. American Swallow-tailed Kite. Pages 188-196 in J. Rodgers, H. Kale II, and H. Smith, editors. Endangered biota of Florida: vol. 5, birds. Univ. Press of Florida, Gainesville. Millsap, B. A., J. Gore, D. Runde, and S. Cerulean. 1989. Setting priorities for the conservation of fish and wildlife species in Florida. Fl a. Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, Fla. 80pp. Powell, A. N., and F. J. Cuthbert. 1993. Augmenting small populations of plovers: An assessment of cross-fostering and captive-rearing. Conservation Biology 7(1):160-168, Pridell, D., N. Carlile, and R. Wheeler. 2006. Establishment of a new breeding colony of Gouldâ€™s petrel through the creation of artificial nesting habitat and the translocation of nestlings. Biological Conservation 128:553-563. Ralls, K., S. R. Beissinger, J. F. Cochrane. 2002. Guidelines for using population viability analyses in endangered-species management. In: S. R. Beissinger and D. R. McCullough eds. Population Viability Analysis. U. Chicago Press. Chicago, Il. Pp 521-550. Robertson, W., Jr. 1988. American Swallow-tailed Kite. Pp. 109-131 in R. S. Palmer, ed.
28 Meyer and Zimmerman Handbook of North American birds, Vol. 4. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Conn.
29 Meyer and Zimmerman APPENDIX 1 Management recommendations for Swallow-tailed Kite nesting habitat in Florida Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) 411 N.E. 7 Street, Gainesville, Florida 32601 Kenneth D. Meyer, PhD, Executive Director 352-514-5606, firstname.lastname@example.org Overview Migratory birds face particular challenges in selecting habitats because their breeding seasons are usually short, decisions about where to settle must be made quickly, and they must rely not on current information about habitat quality but on what was encountered the previous year (Nocera and Betts 2010). Social information plays a role in such decisions (Danchin et al. 2004) and can have diverse consequences in heterogeneous landscapes, especially where humans have changed the environment (Fletcher and Sieving 2010). Abundant studies of habitat selection have informed the development of habitat-suitability profiles and associated management strategies that favor species, guilds, and communities of birds. The conservation status of rare birds can be directly improved by management practices that increase nesting success and productivity. Social species that habitually breed in the same areas are particularly good subjects for such treatments, which can be identified by observational and experimental studies at any scale, from the nest tree to the landscape. Several projects by Avian Research and Conservation Institute have identified potential management treatments and conservation strategies for increasing the breeding performance and sustainability of the United States population of Swallow-tailed Kites. Two recent studies related nesting site selection to timber-management practices and evaluated field trials of nest-site management practices. A third project determined landscape-level correlates of nesting site selection and fates. This research addressed concerns of conservationists and wildlife managers
30 Meyer and Zimmerman about the current population trend and sustainability of this appealing long-distance migratory bird. Our goal was to provide recommendations for feasible, cost-effective management practices at the nest-site and forest scales and for landscape-level protection strategies that would ensure growth and sustainability of this remnant population. The recent history of the U. S. population of Swallow-tailed Kites is characterized by a striking and relatively abrupt reduction in range and numbers. Prior to the 1900s, this species nested in 21 states, but a decline from 1880 to 1940 resulted in the present 1,500 to 2,500 pairs in seven southeastern states (ARCI, unpublished data). There is no evidence of an increase or reoccupation of former range (Robertson 1988). The Swallow-tailed Kite has no federal listing status but is considered of critical conservation concern by state agencies (Millsap et al. 1989), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners in Flight, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Although Swallow-tailed Kites qualify for listing (Meyer and Collopy 1996), the Swallow-tailed Kite Conservation Alliance instead recommends seeking landowner cooperation to stabilize or increase the population. I. Nest-site management recommendations See Meyer and Zimmerman (2010) for background and methods for the following treatments. Artificial nest platforms. Provisioning previously-used nest sites with artificial nest platforms gives breeding Swallow-tailed Kites a ready-built, parasite-free structure that may encourage them to nest at that site (whether previous nesters or new occupants). Because of their long migration, Swallow-tailed Kites have a compressed breeding cycle, which includes rapid courtship, pairing, nest-building, and onset of egg laying. Nests initiated earlier in the spring are statistically more likely to succeed than later nests (Meyer and Collopy 1996). Artificial nests also may improve the chances of successful nesting for younger pairs and for kites arriving later than usual on nesting territories due to delays during migration. Even though occupancy in our field study was relatively low, artificial nests may
31 Meyer and Zimmerman help wildlife managers expand existing, productive concentrations of nesting kites and ultimately reproductive output in selected areas. Although we did not demonstrate it, these structures also may encourage pairs already established at natural nest sites to relocate to nearby locations with greater potential for favorable management and long-term protection. Fumigating previously-used nests. In addition to producing artificial nest platforms, we initially fumigated remnant nests prior to spring arrival of adult kites. However, this was difficult to accomplish with sufficient control and potentially unsafe for the tree climbers. The difference in reuse rates for fumigated (48%) and untreated (14%) nests approached statistical significance, suggesting that fumigation can increase reoccupation, yielding the same benefits described above for artificial nest platforms. After fumigating for one nest season, however, we decided to drop this practice from our nest-site treatments in favor of installing a greater number of fresh artificial nest platforms. Provisioning nest sites with Spanish moss. Because Spanish moss is vital to nest building and may be limiting for breeding Swallowtailed Kites (Meyer 1995), provisioning previously-used nest sites and nearby suitable, unoccupied locations may encourage kites to settle there and permit earlier egg laying. Spanish moss is highly visible and can be hung (from the ground using a pole with a hook at one end) in the lower portions of the tree canopy in places kites would have aerial access. This can enhance the attractiveness and function of existing natural nests and newly-placed artificial nest platforms. Predator shields. Given the apparent high rates of nest depredations, we expected to see improved breeding success after installing aluminum-flashing shields around the bases of half our nest-tree samples in three states. Although there was a suggestion of improved success in Georgia in one year, our results were inconclusive. Unfortunately (for interpreting the results), nesting success was extremely
32 Meyer and Zimmerman high â€“ over 90%, compared with a long-term average of about 50 to 55% - in the year when we made the greatest effort to shield half the nests under observation. We know from evidence near many depredated nests that avian predators, most likely Great Horned Owls, are often the cause of mortality. However, it also has been clear that tree-climbing predators, such as rat snakes and raccoons, also take a toll. Predator shields are inexpensive and easy to install, and we encourage their use. Predator detection and control. Apart from mammals and snake predators, which would climb to nests (and, thus, might be deterred by metal shields), raptors, especially Great Horned Owls, are the most likely source of juvenile and adult mortality at Swallow-tailed Kite nests (Coulson et al. 2008).
surveys revealed that Great Horned Owls were not abundant and, thus, probably were not a major predator of Swallow-tailed Kites in Florida and Georgia, at least during our studies from 2006 to 2009. However, avian predation rates were remarkably higher in 2010 for no apparent reason. We acknowledge that raptor depredations at Swallow-tailed Kites can be significant in some areas at least some of the time. However, habitat management is the only feasible and acceptable means of addressing this threat (e.g., if increases in artificial habitat edges, such as on timber-managed landscapes, is promoting higher predation rates, forest-management practices could be altered).
Potential for increasing local productivity by fostering captive-reared young in natural nests. Our successful translocations in Florida of two naturally-reared Swallow-tailed Kite nestlings from two- to one-bird broods of similar age suggests that this practice could be applied, using captive-reared young, to bolster productivity on a small scale in selected areas. However, we recommend against using this technique to attempt establishment of Swallow-tailed Kites in vacant portions of their historic range. The social behaviors and requirements of breeding kites and the lack
33 Meyer and Zimmerman of successful natural recolonization of historic range indicate that success under these circumstances would be unlikely. With our small-scale effort to assess the potential success of translocations, we hoped to establish whether or not this technique would likely result in the survival and subsequent fledging of foster and resident young. In the event of a down-turn in the U. S. kite population, captive-rearing and carefully-focused translocations or reintroductions could help stabilize kite numbers in core breeding areas.
II. Forest management recommendations Natural versus planted stands. We obtained some quantitative evidence that naturally-propagated pine stands are more attractive to nesting Swallow-tailed Kites than pine plantations. We could not identify the cause of this apparent relationship, but it seemed likely that the maturity of these stands (i.e., recent regeneration strategies have favored proportionately more acres of plantation), which promotes a more open crown, and their more varied physical structure (due to varying degrees of exposure to sunlight within these non-uniform stands) added to their appeal. Mixing regeneration strategies to include an increased reliance on naturally-generated pine stands would result in greater habitat diversity overall and greater chances of attracting nesting Swallow-tailed Kites. Thinning. The strongest positive correlate of nest-site selection by Swallow-tailed Kites was the degree of thinning, which opens the canopy of natural and plantation stands and promotes accelerated growth where light transmission increases. This forest-management practice is being increasingly promoted as a financially beneficial approach to timber production. More care and some specialized harvest equipment is required compared with clear cutting (to avoid damaging the remaining trees, especially their roots), which adds to the cost of production. The net benefits to
34 Meyer and Zimmerman forest productivity, however, outweigh the costs. The benefits to nesting Swallow-tailed Kites also are clear, making this a very appealing approach to both forest and kite production. For less-intensively managed timberlands, including both commercial operations and public lands, such as National Wildlife Refuges, where timber sales offset operating expenses but are not the primary determinant of overall management strategies, thinning natural stands, even down to basal areas of 35 to 40 square feet per acre, can mimic the structure of open, hydric pine forests of central and southern Florida (e.g., those found on ranchlands and large landscape mosaics, such as Big Cypress Swamp) â€“ lands known to support significant, persistent core breeding areas of Swallow-tailed Kites. Whatever the particular ownership, character, commercial value, or long-term trajectory of a managed forest, carefully planned and applied thinning is the single most cost-effective practice for benefitting both timber production and Swallow-tailed Kite conservation. Some specific approaches deserve further consideration. For instance, managers could target particular portions of stands roughly equivalent in size to natural pine-island clusters that are used by nesting kites and thin those areas more heavily, either by selective harvesting or thinning several adjacent rows more heavily than the rest of the stand. Well-planned, selective thinning would create a microsite that more closely mimics actual clusters of emergent trees used by kites. It also would be beneficial to fertilize in the harvested row to accelerate growth of the adjacent released trees. Even without fertilization, however, differential growth, undoubtedly attractive to nesting kites, is definitely apparent within three to four years of thinning, to make it seem like it should be attractive to kites. We also recommend leaving higher basal areas than typical for most thinning activity where pines are adjacent to cypress swamps, hardwood stands, and other unharvested sites. Nesting Swallow-tailed Kites tend to select portions of pine stands bordering such areas, even when these
35 Meyer and Zimmerman features are relatively small in extent. It also would benefit kites to leave more mid-story vegetation than usual when thinning. In all, variations on thinning practices offer major potential for improving habitat suitability of managed forests for Swallow-tailed Kites. Stand rotations. The reason mature pines are preferred by nesting Swallow-tailed Kites is that their crowns tend to be flatter and more open, which probably improves access. Obviously, producing large, mature trees with laterally-compressed crowns means longer rotations, but the added cost to the landowner can be more than offset if there are mills within affordable transportation range that buy logs for production of plywood and dimensional timber. This is a complex dynamic, driven by global-market supplies and demands that are unpredictable and challenging for timber producers to track. Unfortunately, we have seen a declining trend in the production of such mature, lucrative pine stands in favor of shorter-rotation trees destined for paper and composite production. This had directly affected nest-habitat availability for Swallow-tailed Kites on industrial timberlands in Florida and Georgia, where we have studied the species the longest. Promoting markets for larger, older trees grown in longer rotations would directly benefit Swallow-tailed Kites, even if the proportion of industrial timberland devoted to this production strategy were relatively small. Extent of clear cuts. We have no specific area recommendations for limiting the size of clear cuts, but there is considerable cause for concern about the effects of simultaneously removing large, continuous stands of mature hydric forest on which Swallow-tailed Kites rely for nesting. The main threat stems, once again, for this speciesâ€™ strong need for social contact in all aspects of its behavioral ecology. Nesting neighborhoods â€“ loose, but clearly connected, clusters of two to five nests â€“ and the larger-scale arrays created by an extended series of nesting neighborhoods form the matrix on
36 Meyer and Zimmerman which social nesting, feeding, roosting, and predator defense all play out. We do not understand all the ways in which social behavior benefits Swallow-tailed Kites. It is entirely clear, however, that these intricate and refined adaptations for living, in all seasons, as part of a large, constantly social aggregate must have evolved because social behavior, and the benefits it imparts, are vital to the fitness of individual kites. Large scale destruction of the essential habitat that supports this social matrix has to have consequences for population health and sustainability. We need to know more about the tipping points of these impacts. One approach would be to analyze nest-location data over years and regions to delineate apparent neighborhoods and measure the areas they typically encompass. This might provide a first approximation of when harvest-block size seriously compromises the integrity of the social structure on breeding Swallow-tailed Kites. Mechanical clearing and site preparation. Heavy equipment and poor clearing practices will damage remaining trees on sites where seed-tree or selective harvest practices would have otherwise allowed for possible continued use by nesting kites. The same is true for thinned stands where insufficient consideration is given to protecting standing timber. Limbing. Removing limbs from harvested trees by â€œbackingâ€? them into the forested margin of cut areas causes unnecessary disturbance where kites are nesting nearby and damages potential nest trees (and marketable timber). Embedded wetlands, domes and ponds, drains, stringers, streamside management zones. Most protocols for best-management practices specify a minimum number of such features per area or harvest plan on timber-managed landscapes. They provide at least a small amount of structural and species diversity and help maintain water quality. Exceeding the required minimums, either in number or area, can provide more nesting opportunities and choices for nesting kites. The
37 Meyer and Zimmerman listed features in themselves can serve as adequate nest sites, but preserving adjacent buffers of even two- or three-tree widths, even if not required, can increase their value to Swallow-tailed Kites. Desynchronizing harvest plans. Promote heterogeneous age and physical structure, longer rotations, larger patches, and a prescription for a) a minimum number of suitable patches of nesting habitat; and b) a minimum total area of productive foraging habitat on the managed landscape at any given time. Harvest planning can be flexible and meet management targets while still allowing for maintenance of prescribed habitat quality and quantity within the timber-managed landscape.
III. Landscape-level management and conservation strategy Not all suitable Swallow-tailed Kite nesting habitat is occupied. There probably are two main explanations: The speciesâ€™ strong social tendencies, including nesting in loose colonies, which results in a clumped breeding distribution; and factors other than habitat (e.g., demographic performance, relatively low survival associated with long-distance migration) that limit population growth. When planning the spatial aspects of Swallow-tailed Kite conservation, we should consider the relative locations of present concentrations of nesting neighborhoods and the importance of connecting these areas with other centers of social activity, such as communal roosts and foraging areas. Natural corridors, usually of mature forested wetlands, promote movement among these sites. There are too few nests on public lands to assure persistence, with industrial forests supporting most Swallow-tailed Kites (Meyer 2004a). Although nesting habitat is not presently limiting, the quality of associated foraging habitat, which has not been assessed, may influence productivity (Meyer et al. 2004). Strong philopatry and social behavior (Meyer 1995, Meyer 1998) require protection and enhancement of habitually-used nesting areas, which are at risk from intensive forest management and development. Population viability analyses (PVA; Ralls et al. 2002), however, show that, even in more protected areas, survival (Meyer 2005) and nest success are only
38 Meyer and Zimmerman marginally adequate for population persistence. No single intervention will assure population growth. Fortunately, however, our PVAs demonstrate the synergistic effects of concurrent improvements in critical demographic rates. Efforts should be made to manage public lands adjacent to present nesting concentrations of nesting kites in ways that will gradually attract and support breeding effort. This is a perplexing issue and one that is central to Swallow-tailed Kite management. While mature pines are appealing to nesting kites, nest stands are usually hydric sites with very low fire-return rates rather than openpine forest with very little mid-story and a grassy understory maintained by frequent fire. The apparent avoidance of open, frequently-burned pine forest may be due to the increased likelihood of large avian predators, such as the Great Horned Owl, which prey mainly on small mammalian prey and would be attracted pine-forested grasslands. This may seem to put management for nesting Swallow-tailed Kites at odds with efforts to restore frequent fire to pinelands in the Southeast. However, the wet, mixed-species forest that attracts nesting kites typically would not have experienced frequent fire historically and should not necessarily be managed for the savannah-like conditions that would have occurred on more xeric sites. Limiting fire in hydric, mature-pine sites need not threaten open-pine restoration efforts, but rather complement this management strategy by allowing for heterogeneity within the larger landscape. One of the attractions of timber-managed forests to nesting Swallow-tailed Kites may be that these lands are rarely burned. The most productive industrial forests in the Southeast tend to have long hydroperiods, so the threat of catastrophic fire is relatively low. Slash and Loblolly Pine do well on these wet sites, natural recolonization is usually not expected, rotations tend to be short, and the species associations and character of the mid- and under-stories are not of concern. There is no compelling financial reason why forest managers should go to the effort and expense to burn most industrial timberlands.
39 Meyer and Zimmerman An additional important consideration for swallow-tail conservation planning when prioritizing land acquisition and easement strategies is the ownership, restoration targets, and management potential under public care (or cooperative agreements with private owners). What is the likelihood that the management goals are consistent with promoting the species and structural diversity that favors nesting Swallow-tailed Kites? Are the resources committed for the long term? Finally, when mapping the intended outcomes of medium- and long-term land management with regard to kites, we should consider the relative productivity of existing breeding centers and strive to promote and protect the longevity of these proven areas.
IV. Synthesis Land managers and citizen conservationists can perform affordable management treatments to affect local Swallow-tailed Kite populations. Improvements will result regardless of scale, but as these efforts are applied more widely, the STKI population will benefit proportionately. The forest industry can produce positive change at the largest scale. Some well-accepted silvicultural practices, such as thinning and promoting age and structural heterogeneity through longterm management planning, will promote Swallow-tailed Kite occupancy and productivity in conjunction with sustainable forestry strategies for relatively little cost compared with land acquisition and permanent easements. Other forestry practices that favor kites can be achieved at affordable costs â€“ or, where more expensive, with supplemental public funds - by timber companies and private These include: establishing longer rotations of some stands that target limited but more lucrative markets, such as plywood and dimensional timber; establishing substantial buffers around consistently-used kite nesting neighborhoods that remain are either left unharvested or subjected to low-intensity uses with reduced impacts on nesting- and foraging-habitat quality; setting aside strategically-placed, high-
40 Meyer and Zimmerman quality nesting habitat (or subjecting such blocks to lower-intensity harvest practices) on speculation, even though nesting Swallow-tailed Kites are not yet present; and restoring degraded or clear-cut pine stands on small, well-drained (usually elevated) sites within hardwood-dominated flood-plain forests, which can attract clusters of breeding pairs as the pines mature due to the high foraging value of the surrounding habitat. Having worked to identify and evaluate the management practices described here, our most important recommendation, based on 23 years of direct observation and integration of all available information from over 1,200 nesting attempts, is deceptively simple: Protect nesting Swallow-tailed Kites where they choose to be. This species, mainly due to its pervasive social nature, is exceptionally persistent in its attachment to place. This affinity, which transcends the short-term behavior of individuals within their relatively brief lifespan, is expressed by a continually shifting succession of pairs (and turnover within the pairs), joined by their collective return and adherence to locations where they can expect to find other Swallow-tailed Kites. “Occupied habitat” is not a static, within-year physical conditions exploited by a breeding pair. It is set of natural features, some essential, associated with a location that has taken on cultural and traditional importance. There is no question that many of the Swallow-tailed Kites in our study populations continue to nest where they do – despite local habitat alteration and loss that is often severe – due to this over-riding attachment to location. We do not know if their nesting success, productivity, and survival are compromised as a result. There have been striking examples of such site fidelity in nearly every year we have studied Swallow-tailed Kites. In a recent case, a typical stand on managed timberland with a nest that was successful in 2008 was clear-cut prior to spring 2009. The harvest crew noticed flagging on the nest tree and left it standing in the middle of the clearing, the only tree remaining in the 35-acre cut. A pair of Swallow-tailed Kites reoccupied the nest in 2009 and fledged young. Prior to 2010,
41 Meyer and Zimmerman the tree sustained an insect infection and most of the foliage was gone or brown by spring 2010. Nonetheless, a pair of kites again nested in the old structure, this time unsuccessfully. Such remnant trees are more subject to higher winds, lightning, and exposure to predators than nest trees in typical forest stands, yet breeding kites, whether the original pair or not, were sufficiently attracted to the tree, old nest structure, nearby nesting kites, or some combination of factors to continue using this site. It is inconceivable that a pair ever would have selected this lone, exposed tree without prior experience there, the presence of the previously-used nest, or the nearby active territories. This suggests one scenario whereby Swallow-tailed Kite social behavior and shared information can lead to an ecological trap in human-altered landscapes (Fletcher and Sieving 2010). Given the pervasive sociality of this species, such concerns are warranted in planning for its conservation. Protecting occupied Swallow-tailed Kite habitat where we find it is vitally important. This simple expression, however, masks the challenges this concept poses for implementing Swallowtailed Kite conservation. The necessary, over-arching strategy will require communication and coordination among public, corporate, and private conservationists and land managers at all levels. The required effort will not be sustained without the active engagement of attentive conservationists from many disciplines. Critical-species leads in state and federal wildlife agencies will be in the best positions to monitor and guide this concerted effort. Favoring success is the unqualified allure of this spectacular bird and the publicâ€™s keen interest in its persistence.
LITERATURE CITED Cely, J. 1979. Status of the Swallow-tailed Kite and factors affecting its distribution. Pages 144-150 in D. M. Forsythe and W. B. Ezell, Jr., editors. Proceedings of the first South Carolina endangered species symposium. South Carolina Wildlife and Natural Resources Department. Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Coulson, J. O., T. D. Coulson, S. A. DeFrancesch, and T. W. Sherry. 2008. Predators of the Swallow-tailed Kite in southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Journal of Raptor Research 42:1-12.
42 Meyer and Zimmerman Danchin, E., L.-A. Giraldeau, T. J. Valone, and R. H. Wagner. 2004. Public information: from nosy neighbors to cultural evolution. Science 305:487-491. Fletcher, R. J., and K. E. Sieving. 2010. Social information use in heterogeneous landscapes: a prospectus. Condor 112:225-234. Garth, R. E. 1964. The ecology of Spanish moss: Its growth and distribution. Ecology 45(3):470-481. Marino, S., J. Martinez, A. P. Moller, A. Barbosa, F. De Lope, F. R. Caabeiro. 2001. Physiological and haematological consequences of a novel parasite on the red-rumped swallow. International Journal of Parasitology 31:1,187-1,193. Meyer, K. D. 1995. Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus). in A. Poole and F. Gill, editors. The birds of North America, No. 138. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and American Ornithologistsâ€™ Union, Washington, D. C., USA. ___ . 1998. Communal roosts of the American Swallow-tailed Kite in Florida: habitat associations, critical sites, and a technique for monitoring population status. Final Report NG90-036, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___. 2004a. Conservation and management of the Swallow-tailed Kite. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___. 2004b. Demography, dispersal, and migration of the Swallow-tailed Kite. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___. 2005. Survival and fecundity of adult Swallow-tailed Kites breeding in Florida. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. ___, S. M. McGehee, and M. W. Collopy. 2004. Food deliveries at Swallow-tailed Kite nests in southern Florida. Condor 106:171-176. ___, and M. W. Collopy. 1996. American Swallow-tailed Kite. Pages 188-196 in J. Rodgers, H. Kale II, and H. Smith, editors. Endangered biota of Florida: vol. 5, birds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA. ___, and G. Zimmerman. 2010. Applied management practices to increase nesting success and productivity of Swallow-tailed Kites. Final report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report. Tallahassee, Florida, USA. Millsap, B. A., J. Gore, D. Runde, and S. Cerulean. 1989. Setting priorities for the conservation of fish and wildlife species in Florida. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
43 Meyer and Zimmerman Nocera, J. J., and M. G. Betts. 2010. The role of social information in avian habitat selection. Condor 112:222-224. Robertson, W., Jr. 1988. American Swallow-tailed Kite. Pages 109-131 in R. S. Palmer, editor. Handbook of North American birds, Vol. 4. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Fig. 1. Locations of 2007 Swallow-tailed Kite study nests in Florida: natural nests fumigated, artificial platforms installed, nest trees with predator shields (â€œflashâ€?), and active nests with no treatments.
Fig. 2. Subset of 2007 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 1 in the primary study area, Levy and Alachua counties, Florida.
Fig. 3. Locations of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite study nests in Florida: natural nests fumigated, artificial platforms installed, nest trees with predator shields (â€œflashâ€?), and active nests with no treatments.
Fig. 4. Subset of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 3 in the primary study area, Levy County, Florida.
Fig. 5. Subset of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 3 in the northeastern study area; Alachua, Marion, and Lake counties, Florida.
Fig. 6. Subset of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 3 in the eastern (Volusia and Brevard counties) and southern (Polk, Highlands, and Miami Dade counties) study areas of Florida.
Fig. 7. Locations of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite study nests in Georgia: natural nests fumigated, artificial platforms installed, nest trees with predator shields (â€œflashâ€?), and active nests with no treatments.
Fig. 8. Subset of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 7 in the northern study area of Georgia.
Fig. 9. Subset of 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nests from Figure 7 in the southern study area of Georgia.
Fig. 10. Locations of all used and unused 2008 Swallow-tailed Kite nest platforms and nest replacements (removals) in Levy County, Florida.
Fig. 11. Locations of all Swallow-tailed Kite nest platforms constructed in South Carolina in 2009.
Fig. 12. Locations of three survey routes (points depict playback locations) where Great-horned Owl surveys were conducted in Levy County, Florida, in 2008 and 2009.
Fig. 13. Locations of playback points for Great-horned Owl surveys conducted east of Gainesville, Florida, in 2008 and 2009.
Fig. 14. Locations of four survey routes (points depict playback locations) where Great-horned Owl surveys were conducted in Georgia in 2008.
Figure 15. Location of Swallow-tailed Kite translocation nests in Levy County, Florida in 2010. Green dots depict donor nests, from each of which 1 nestling was removed from a 2-bird brood (Road 2-10G and Road 2-10S, overlapping in this view). Pink dots indicate the respective recipient nests, Road 31 and Coulter 102.
Table 1. Swallow-tailed Kite nests found and monitored in Florida in 2007 with respective management treatments and fates.
Nest Name 2007
Butler '06 Coulter Rd North Liars Oak Central Hawk Agwood west Astor 1st St '06 Astor 3rd St Astor Church Goethe north Grey Lakes Rd 11 Rd 9 Dave Wacassassa Rd Astor Anne BI Grasshopper
Date foun d
PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT Private Private Private State PCT PCT PCT PCT
4/11 5/8 3/26 3/26 3/29 4/13 4/13 4/24 4/4 3/26 4/5 3/23 4/5
Incubating Incubating Building Building Incubating Incubating Incubating Incubating Incubating Incubating Building Building Building
Yes Yes Yes '05 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Butler Steve Coulter Rd '05 stand Ellzey Fiber Factory 1 Ft. McCoy Goethe '04
PCT Private PCT PCT State
5/26 3/26 4/17 5/19 6/20
Building 1 ch 24 days Building Incubating Chicks Brooding
Miami golf Rd 1 Cornell Rd 1 west
3/3 4/2 4/4
Building Building Building
Incubating 2 chx 24 days Building
Private PCT PCT
Rd 9 '06
Ross Hammock Staley West Parker '05'06
Yes '04 Adjacen t
2006 Success Success Fail Success Success Success Success Success
Fail Succes s Succes s
Treatment Fumigated Fumigated Removed Removed
Treatmen t date
3/21 3/27 6/28
# Chick s
Flas h date
Yes Yes Yes Yes
4/4 4/12 4/4 4/12
Success Success Fail Success Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail
Success Success Success Success Success
1 2 2 2 1
Success Success Success
Success Unknow n
State USFW S
Unknow n Unknow n Unknow n Unknow n
Table 2. Swallow-tailed Kite nests found and monitored in Florida in 2008 with respective management treatments and fates.
Nest Name 2008 Rd 9 '06 Butler Steve Coulter Rd '05 stand Fiber Factory 1 Ft. McCoy '06 east Shell Mound Watson NW platform Fiber Factory leftover Ft. McCoy powerline LSNWR '08 Restoration Astor Ann Astor church Coulter Rd Ft. McCoy '07 Goethe '04 south Alvin cypress Alvin east Betty Rd BI ponds B Butler Kyle Camp D/Watson Coulter north DEP south mainline East Meeks Flycatcher nest Ft. McCoy pond Gads Bay Gads private Goethe north '08 Hickory Ford south Hwy 27
Longitude -82.77820 -82.66996 -82.69564 -82.74369 -82.00848 -83.03487 -82.79204 -82.75109 -82.00189 -83.05859 -81.01707 -81.52692 -81.52997 -82.69616 -82.00862 -82.59778 -82.67042 -82.66666 -83.01712 -82.78801 -82.67268 -82.81105 -82.68961 -82.78471 -82.75623 -82.71755 -82.00632 -82.79131 -82.78955 -82.59966 -82.72601 -82.48485
Latitude 29.35872 29.14062 29.17967 29.20448 29.35172 29.21115 29.28070 29.19952 29.35100 29.30091 28.97633 29.16231 29.16091 29.17848 29.35342 29.28749 29.34122 29.34275 29.38781 29.23867 29.14280 29.24864 29.18170 29.20778 29.30329 29.29218 29.35300 29.31981 29.31760 29.28622 29.16639 29.38814
Owner PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT DEP PCT PCT PCT USFWS Private Private Private PCT PCT State PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT DEP PCT PCT PCT PCT Private DOF PCT Private
Date found 3/20 3/19 3/31 3/31 4/16 4/8 3/28 3/24 3/29 4/8 4/14 4/14 4/14 3/31 3/29 3/31 3/26 3/26 4/8 6/5 6/13 5/22 3/21 3/28 5/16 5/23 3/29 4/1 4/1 3/31 3/21 4/3
Status Building Building Building Incubating Incubating Incubating Building Building Building Building Incubating Incubating Incubating Building Building Building Building Building Incubating 2 chx 27 days 2 ch fledged 1 ch 12 days Building Building 1 chick 1 chick Building Building Building Incubating Building Building
Reuse? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes '06 Yes
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2007 Success Success Success Success Success Success Unknown
Unknown Success Fail Success Success Success
2008 Treatment Fumigate Fumigate Fumigate Fumigate Fumigate Fumigate Platform
Treatment date 2/19 3/5 2/28 2/21 3/6 3/11 3/9
2008 Success Failed Success Success Success Success Success Success Failed Failed Failed Failed Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success
# Chicks 1 2 1 1 2 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 2
Flash date 4/23
Yes Yes Yes
4/29 4/15 4/16
Yes Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes
4/16 4/23 4/23
Table 2. continued.
Nest Name 2008 Juniper Springs '08 Meeks Parker Rd 2 A Rd 2 B Rd 2 Pond Rd 31 Rd 33 A
Longitude -81.70755 -82.75957 -82.86695 -82.71620 -82.71520 -82.71487 -82.80269 -82.83023
Latitude 29.18126 29.30253 29.26943 29.34574 29.34720 29.34493 29.30430 29.30094
Shell Bay South Parker Suwannee loop Swilly leftover Turner WMA '08 north IMC Miami Corp 1 Miami Corp 2 Miami golf Pete Archibold
-83.03717 -82.87577 -83.05470 -82.79151 -82.69504 -82.66949 -81.80255 -80.94135 -80.94400 -80.27586 -81.34939
29.21224 29.21984 29.29150 29.25913 29.18285 29.10003 27.82339 28.83553 28.71672 25.73338 27.21239
Owner USFS PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT DOF Caber Co PCT USFWS PCT PCT PCT County Private Private Private Private
Date found 5/15 4/3 3/25 3/17 6/5 3/26 5/9 4/23
Status 1 chick Incubating Building Building 2 chx 30 days Building 2 chicks Incubating
6/3 3/25 4/8 3/28 6/4 4/17 4/28 3/23 3/23 4/1 4/15
2 chx 16 days Building Incubating Building 2 chicks Incubating Building Building Building Incubating Incubating
2008 Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success
# Chicks 1 2 2 1 2 2 2 2
Success Success Success Success Success Success Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
2 2 2 2 2 1
Yes/flush Yes Yes Yes/flush
Table 3. Swallow-tailed Kite nests found and monitored in Georgia in 2008 with respective management treatments and fates.
Nest Name 2008
Alex Creek 081 Clarks Bluff West 081 Alex Creek 082 Alex Creek 083 Black Swamp 08 Clarks Bluff 081 Clarks Bluff West 082 Crooked River 081 Crooked River 082 Crooked River 083 Dead River Road 081 Dreading Lake 081 Hoboken 081 Middleton Tract 081 Orange Bluff 081 Rayonier WMA 081 Riley Creek 081 Spanish Creek 081 Spanish Creek 082 Steed 081
-81.67219 -81.83617 -81.67573 -81.67268 -81.89912 -81.80505 -81.83385 -81.70496 -81.70724 -81.70886 -81.91045 -81.89960 -82.18684 -81.94811 -81.86739 -81.81189 -81.86403 -82.05901 -82.06892 -81.91807
31.51667 30.95500 31.51358 31.51285 31.79544 30.96149 30.94910 30.83093 30.83177 30.83268 31.11701 31.29199 31.21705 31.31211 30.79707 31.39940 30.89868 30.82664 30.86227 31.30670
GA DNR Ivanhoe PCT PCT Private Rayonier Ivanhoe Silco Silco Private PCT Rayonier Private Private Private Rayonier UGA Private Private Rayonier Great Satilla Development Co.
4/12 4/12 4/15 4/13 4/24 4/18 4/18 5/14 5/14 5/14 4/18 5/16 5/16 4/22 5/14 6/16 4/18 5/14 5/14 4/22
Incubating Building Incubating 3 chx 35 days Incubating Incubating Incubating Young chicks Young chicks Brooding Incubating Young chicks Incubating Incubating Incubating 1 ch 35 days Incubating Incubating Incubating Incubating
Success Failed Failed Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Unknown Success Failed Success Success Success
1 1 1 or 2
Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
5/15 4/22 5/7 5/18 5/18 4/21 5/20 5/22 4/23
5/6 5/17 5/19 5/6
2 of 3 2 1 2 2 2 1or 2 2 2 2 1 2
Table 4. Swallow-tailed Kite nest treatments in Florida in 2007. Fumigated nest sites Butler Steve Coulter 2006 Big Spring powerline Lynwell 2005 Road 6 B
Longitude -82.66996 -82.69976 -82.65931 -82.71584 -82.70264
Latitude 29.14062 29.17615 29.12081 29.18281 29.35648
2006 Success Success Fail Success Success Success
Owner PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT
Date 3/21/07 3/20/07 3/13/07 3/13/07 3/13/07
Used 2007? Yes Yes No No No
2007 Success Success Success n/a n/a n/a
Platform nest sites Coulter 2005 stand Fiber Factory 2004 Leftover Fiber Factory crossroad Lynwell experimental Lynwell stand
2006 Success n/a
Used 2007? No
2007 Success n/a
-82.75116 -82.74515 -82.71093 -82.70924
29.19992 29.20773 29.18791 29.18927
n/a n/a n/a n/a
PCT PCT PCT PCT
3/16/07 3/16/07 3/19/07 3/19/07
No No No No
n/a n/a n/a n/a
Table 5. Swallow-tailed Kite nest treatments in Florida in 2008. Fumigated nest sites Fiber Factory 1 Coulter Rd '05 stand Butler Steve Ft. McCoy '06 east Shell Mound Rd 9 '06 Rd 1 west BI Grasshopper Rd 11 Rd 9 Dave Shell Mound Hawk
Longitude -82.74369 -82.69564 -82.66996 -82.00848 -83.03487 -82.77820 -82.70670 -82.77880 -82.75530 -82.79168 -83.03560
Latitude 29.20448 29.17967 29.14062 29.35172 29.21115 29.35872 29.36766 29.24975 29.28884 29.37245 29.21109
2007Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Success Failed Failed Unknown
Owner PCT PCT PCT PCT State PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT State
Date 2/21/08 2/28/08 3/5/08 3/6/08 3/11/08 2/19/08 2/20/08 2/27/08 2/19/08 3/11/08 2/29/08
Used 2008? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
Platform nest sites Watson northwest
Fiber Factory leftover
Ft McCoy Hickory Ford 1 Hickory Ford 2 Management mitigation Rd 9 Intersection NW Turkey Rd Tweeter Rd Waccassassa R bridge West Hawk Staley 3
-81.99629 -82.72745 -82.72877
29.34686 29.17215 29.17444
n/a n/a n/a
PCT PCT PCT
3/6/08 2/28/08 2/28/08
Used 2008? Yes Used near by tree No No No
-82.74165 -82.77366 -82.69648 -82.76030
29.12956 29.36202 29.15773 29.19735
n/a n/a n/a n/a
PCT PCT PCT PCT
3/3/08 2/7/08 3/5/08 2/25/08
No No No No
n/a n/a n/a n/a
-82.72955 -82.80669 -82.33611
29.30267 29.22794 29.49734
n/a n/a n/a
PCT PCT Private
3/9/08 2/27/08 1/20/08
No No No
n/a n/a n/a
2008Success Success Success Success Success Success Failed n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
2008Success Success Failed n/a n/a n/a
Table 6. Swallow-tailed Kite nest treatments in Georgia in 2008. Fumigated nest sites Alex Creek 061/081 Clarks Bluff West 062/081 Hoboken 061 Jack Lake 061 Pine Island 061 Riley Creek 061 Snuffbox 061
2006 Success Success
Owner GA DNR
Used 2008? Yes
31.21881 31.57679 31.65636 30.88663 31.51071
-82.17134 -81.66316 -81.69706 -81.86440 -81.54089
Success Success Success Failed Success
Private Rayonier International Paper University of GA International Paper
3/16/08 3/9/08 3/9/08 3/13/08 3/20/08
Yes No No No No No
Failed n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Yes n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Platform nest sites Bullhead Bluff Cabin Bullhead Bluff Rd Black Swamp Boons Lake
Longitude 30.89399 30.90539 31.79697 31.09419
Latitude -81.84766 -81.85776 -81.89127 -81.91616
2006 Success n/a n/a n/a n/a
Jim Baileys Mill Little Satilla WMA
Owner Private Private Private PCT FL: St. Johns R. WMD FL: St. Johns R. WMD Varn Turpentine and Cattle Co. Private PCT Varn Turpentine and Cattle Co. PCT Varn Turpentine and Cattle Co. Private
Date 3/5/08 3/6/08 3/28/08 4/2/08
Used 2008? n/a n/a n/a n/a
2008Success n/a n/a n/a n/a
Flashed? n/a n/a n/a n/a
Table 7. Swallow-tailed Kite nest treatments in Florida in 2009. Used 2009? Yes Yes
Flashed? Yes Yes/flush
Flash date 4/17/09 4/29/09
Used 2009? Yes
Flash date 4/7/09
PCT PCT PCT PCT
3/11/09 3/18/09 2/24/09 3/16/09
Platform nest sites Big Springs stand Little Rd experimental Agwood leftover Agwood West 1 Agwood West 2 Big Springs natural Camp B north Camp D dump Ellzey cemetary Ellzey church/pond Fiber Factory south/Mud Rd Ft McCoy Hickory Ford thin north Hickory Ford thin south Linda north Mid Linda/Coulter Preacher Keith tram Rd 5/51 Waccassassa River south West hawk leftover south
Longitude -82.67334 -82.72214 -82.67298 -82.67367 -82.67679 -82.66099 -82.70340 -82.81659 -82.80538 -82.80536 -82.75705 -81.99512 -82.73142 -82.73317 -82.68709 -82.69477 -82.75477 -82.76059 -82.73585 -82.80630
Latitude 29.12955 29.18984 29.22451 29.21967 29.21880 29.13123 29.15567 29.24726 29.32098 29.31481 29.18931 29.34616 29.17039 29.16570 29.18589 29.17474 29.21187 29.40151 29.28148 29.22577
Owner PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT PCT
Date 2/25/09 2/13/09 2/9/09 2/12/09 2/12/09 2/25/09 3/13/09 2/26/09 2/6/09 2/4/09 2/16/09 3/10/09 3/2/09 3/2/09 2/27/09 3/4/09 2/3/09 2/24/09 2/6/09 2/20/09
Removed/replaced nest sites Coulter N Buck Island ponds B (remove only) Ft McCoy pond/power Fiber Factory left Rd 9 Rd 2 B
-82.00189 -82.75109 -82.77820 -82.71520
29.35100 29.19952 29.35872 29.34720
Table 8. Swallow-tailed Kite nest treatments in South Carolina in 2009. Platform nest sites Big Lake 204-C1 204-C2 204-D 204 212-B1 212-B2 G-yard1 G-yard2 158-B 166-B Francis Beidler 1 Francis Beidler 2 Waccamaw Visitor Center Bull Creek Cooter Creek Sandy Island Maria's Tree Lewis 1 Lewis 2
Longitude -79.14029 -79.46437 -79.45978 -79.50407 -79.51772 -79.51462 -79.51575 -79.61587 -79.61728 -79.72368 -79.67419 -80.32578 -80.33071 Unknown -79.13642 -79.13065 -79.16107 -79.39473 -79.74274 Unknown
Latitude 33.66324 33.21354 33.21683 33.23244 33.22363 33.16730 33.16811 33.28304 33.28118 33.20972 33.15286 33.16317 33.14936 Unknown 33.63686 33.58537 33.56451 33.56538 33.58031 Unknown
Owner USFWS FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF FMNF Audubon Audubon USFWS USFWS TNC TNC M. Whitehead Boyd Lewis Boyd Lewis
Date placed 3/12/09 3/6/09 3/25/09 3/10/09 3/9/09 3/20/09 3/26/09 3/14/09 3/27/09 3/17/09 2/23/09 5/12/09 5/13/09 5/4/09 3/19/09 3/31/09 3/30/09 3/3/09 3/15/09 5/23/09
Used 2009? Yes
1 Kite circled 2 times 3 Kites circled before rigging 1 Kite circled climber, 2nd heard 3 Kites circled climber, mildly vocal Frequent checks by owner-none seen
Table 9. Location and status of Swallow-tailed Kite translocation nests in Levy County, Florida in 2010.
Rd 2 10G Rd 31
Banded, moved 1 to Rd 31 nest Added nestling from Rd 2-10G,set camera
Rd 2 10S Coulter 102
Nestlings 1 nestling
Banded, moved 1 to Coulter 102 nest Added nestling from Rd 2-10S
Ken Meyer, 2012