The project is part of ongoing research by the Avian Research and Conservation Institute. The Institute's Executive Director Ken Meyer was the featured speaker at our 2020 Annual Meeting.
Senior Researcher Gina Kent told us the Institute had a lot of challenges with tracking this year because the GSM/cell technology is changing rapidly and the birds' older trackers are not able to download data to the new technology. In spring, they had not heard from Suwannee's tracker in five months and feared the tracker's battery had died. That was not unexpected after three years, but still was sad news.
Then, in June, Gina brought good news. After five months of silence, Suwannee contact a cell tower again. His tracker showed him to be safely back on the Lower Suwannee NWR. It turned out that the tracker could still communicate with the technology of our local cell towers.
Within a few weeks, however, his tracker did stop functioning. Gina believes Suwannee is still out there alive. They know he nested this year. We are still sorry to lose touch with this old friend.
The next batch of good news is that Friends has been able to help with a new tracker for a new bird, Suwannee II. He will continue to bring the data on Refuge use and flight patterns, and Friends will be able to continue to follow a Swallow-tailed Kite with whom we all have a semi-personal connection.