Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Collaboration Creates Swallow-Tailed Kit Monitoring Project

April 27, 2021
In recent years, people have reported seeing an increase in the number of swallow-tailed kites on Sanibel, especially during the nesting season.
A few nests have been monitored by a small group of dedicated volunteers for several years. With some upcoming habitat restoration projects in the works, SCCF, the City of Sanibel, and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge banded together to establish a kite monitoring program with guidance from the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI).
ARCI has been studying swallow-tailed kites for decades and its expertise was invaluable in establishing this new monitoring effort. Collectively, we can gain a better understanding of how these beautiful birds are utilizing our island and how we can help protect them.
In mid-March, Sanibel conservation biologists conducted surveys across Sanibel Island to locate suitable habitats and possible nest structures. Several nests were located and confirmed to have incubating kites.
The team is currently monitoring seven active nests on the island and believes more may be identified in the coming weeks.
Kites are still returning from their wintering grounds in South America, so the monitoring group and volunteers will also continue to look for new nest structures and check historical nesting sites for new activity.
Kites nest near the top of tall trees, usually cypress or slash pines, but on Sanibel, the tallest trees are typically Australian pines. Australian pines (Casuarina spp.) are not as sturdy as their preferred nesting trees so there is some concern that kite nests may be damaged or destroyed during heavy winds.
We have a lot to learn through this new collaboration, including what makes Sanibel such a desirable nesting location for these birds!
If there is a swallow-tailed kite nest near you, or you suspect there may be a pair nesting nearby, reach out to us at Remember to always observe nesting birds from a respectful distance of at least 100 feet. Click here to learn more at the ARCI website.


Archives by Month