Earlier in May, Dr. Ken Meyer, executive director of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) in Gainesville FL, visited the Lower Suwannee Refuge with several research associates to consult with Refuge staff members Larry Woodward and Daniel Barrand about Swallow-tailed Kite habitat and conservation efforts.
According to the ARCI website, the Swallow-tailed Kite's range, which once went along the Mississippi River as far north as Minnesota, is now just a third its historic size. ARCI works to develop management techniques for these at-risk birds. Since 1996, they have used satellite telemetry to study the ecology of Swallow-tailed Kites, including the 10,000 mile migration they make each year to the humid plains of Brazil and back to the lowlands of the southeast U.S.
At the May meeting of the Friends Board, discussion about Swallow-tailed Kite research on the Refuge led to an interest in Friends possibly supporting the cost for ARCI to tag a "Refuge" bird and follow its migration.
Almost all of us have seen these iconic birds at the Refuge and awaited their annual return in Spring. Perhaps some of us would want to participate in the research about them and their relationship to our Refuge and the habitat it preserves for them.