Debbie Jordan, here. I am a member of the Friends Board of Directors. I am shepherding Friends' Swallow-tailed Kite Project. In the spring of this year, Friends provided funding to to tag one Swallow-tailed Kite that was summering on the Refuge so it could be tracked during its migration to Brazil and back. Here is the background. Now, I have an update.
It’s a boy! I was excited hear the news from researcher Gina Kent when she got the results of the breast-feather DNA lab test determining the sex of “our” swallow-tailed kite. I have to say, I was secretly hoping for a girl but am glad he is healthy, and hopefully ready for the trip to South America (and back to the refuge next spring)!
Here is a link to a story about the tagging of our Kite, in case you missed it earlier on our website, http://www.swallow-tailedkites.org/2019/08/the-swallow-tailed-kite-class-of-2019.html. Gina and the team from Gainesville’s Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) tagged “Suwannee” with a GPS tracking device last May, with major support by the Friends of LSNWR and funding by a grant from the National Audubon Society.
The state-of-the-art GSM transmitter works off cell-phone towers along his journey, downloading data several times a day as the bird passes within range. If no towers are present, the data is stored and then retrieved when signal becomes available. Suwannee is one of 16 birds being monitored as they migrate to their wintering grounds in Brazil and Bolivia. After spending the summer months around the refuge and agricultural fields around Chiefland, Suwannee headed south the first week of August.
Stayed tuned to the website for updates on his progress, as he makes his way to South America! We wish Suwannee and the other 15 birds of the Class of 2019 a safe migration with plenty to eat. Habitat loss along the flyways is a huge threat for migrating birds.
Articles about the kite research are anticipated this fall in the Audubon magazine and other publications. We will keep you posted as more info becomes available.
Don't try this at home, Refuge Asst. Manager Larry Woodward took this video when he assessed the extent of the flooded Nature Drive.
Roads on the Refuge, on the Levy County side, are closed due to flooding, as is CR347 from which we would access the Refuge roads.
Refuge staff members are monitoring the roads and other areas.
Refuge Biologist, Vic Doig, reports that "The Refuge area received over 20" of rain between Aug 14 - Aug 18th, and much of the area is heavily flooded. The last time we saw nearly as much rain in a short period was during Hurricanes Francis and Jean in Sept 2004, when about 15" fell over a few days. All Refuge roads are currently closed, and even some adjacent highways are partially closed due to flooding. For comparison sake, our average annual rainfall is about 50" a year - we are already well above that with this recent event, and it is still August!! Let's all hope and pray for a dry hurricane season this year."
When Refuge Manager Andrew Gude checked on the Nature Drive yesterday, he reported that "In a brief period of time I saw, in the same view, a gator laying in the road, a snake moving across it, gar swimming like salmon over the road, and an egret standing on the downside of the road nailing fish as they came over the road."
Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges is requesting proposals from duly licensed and qualified consultants or consulting teams to perform an assessment of several historic structures on the Vista site within the Lower Suwannee Refuge near Fowler’s Bluff, Florida. We are interested in using the Vista site for visitor contact and interpretation.
We have received a planning grant from the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources to conduct for the project.
This project will provide documentation and information about the buildings at Vista, and hopefully, will be a planning tool for the maintenance, stabilization, preservation, and future rehabilitation of the structures.
The full RFP is available here.
New information indicates that Snake Key, in addition to all the other birds now roosting there, is a significant pre-migratory mass roosting site for Purple Martins. Folks in Cedar Key, including Friends president John McPherson, started seeing and reporting massive numbers of purple martins a couple years ago in the mid to late summer. The Refuge staff members worked with Dr. Jason Fletcher, a Disney Animal Kingdom researcher who tagged some of the birds. One was tracked to Snake Key after last breeding season. Further investigation by Dr. Fisher and Refuge biologist Vic Doig show that as many as 5,000 Purple Martins were roosting at Snake Key overnight in July.
The Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs is helping support the satellite tracking of a Swallow-tailed Kite as it migrates from the Refuge to Brazil.
Read more at Swallow-tailed Kite Migration: a ten thousand tile odyssey
George talked us through his expansive, inspiring vision of the Big Bend Conservation effort, with detailed data on its history and current status, on key land areas for needed for conservation, on key players, and on the role that the Lower Suwannee and other Refuges could play in the effort to keep the Big Bend as a driver for the regional economy and quality of life.
George was a man who made a difference in all our lives, even those of us who never were lucky enough to meet him personally.
Clay Henderson, a lawyer and professor at Stetson University, was quoted in Politico as saying that only Teddy Roosevelt conserved more land in Florida than George did. He was involved in about half a million acres of land deals. The only person who was involved Florida land conservation more than George was Teddy Roosevelt.
George's obituary can be found here.
During the January 2019 government shutdown, vandals defaced one of the Lower Suwannee Refuge's main directional signs. Friends members made temporary repairs.
Finally, the permanent repair is in place. Thanks to the Friends members who kept all of us from having to live with the vandalism from January until July!
Thanks to Friends former president Maria Sgambati for forwarding this YouTube of swallow-tailed kites. And thanks to Raymond Powers for taking and posting the video!
The birds were gathering on a farm near the Refuge in Gilchrist County in preparation for their migration. Friends is supporting the tracking of one swallow-tailed kite on its migration this year. Maybe ours is in this group! See the video here.
Need information? Refuge Manager Andrew Gude can be reached by text or phone at 703.622.3896.
Flood Causes Closures. CR 347 in Levy County is closed and access to the Refuge in Levy County is not possible at this time. Flooding is also occurring in Dixie County and Refuge roads may be closed there also.
The print version of the 2019-2020 Hunt Regulations Brochure is now available at Refuge headquarters. For an digital version,
The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Visitors are welcome to walk or bicycle around yellow Refuge gates.
We have a monthly email News Brief
Like us on Facebook