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Gulf / Caribbean Flyway: August 2012

September 3, 2012

By Rafael A. Gálvez

As of the end of August, 2012, 2 raptor migration monitoring sites have reported count data to HawkCount – Smith Point and Corpus Christi, both from Texas. As the calendar turns to September, additional sites in Texas, Florida and Mexico will commence monitoring activities. By October, we hope to also see active sites in Panama.

The fall 2011 season had as many as 8 raptor monitoring sites across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region. We can only hope that all those sites will maintain activity this fall of 2012. The active sites from the fall of 2011 included:

  1. Guana Reserve, Florida – data in HawkCount
  2. Florida Keys Hawkwatch, Florida – data in HawkCount
  3. Smith Point, Texas – NO data in HawkCount
  4. Corpus Christi, Texas – data in HawkCount
  5. Bentsen State Park, Texas – data in HawkCount
  6. Veracruz River of Raptors, Mexico – data in HawkCount
  7. Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Panama – data in HawkCount
  8. Semaphore Hill (Canopy Tower), Panama

A ninth potential site from the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba could soon be in activity. A report from the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory describes recent planning workshops and measures taken towards the establishment of migration monitoring sites in Cuba.

Summary of Migratory Movement as of August 2012

Smith Point is off to a great start, with their second highest August total – 6606 birds – after the 8374 August total from 2002. The great majority of their birds have been Mississippi Kites, with 6017 by August 28, 2012. The bulk of those migrated through on the 27 and 28, 2063 and 3935 respectively. Highlights include a total of 346 Broad-winged Hawks, 124 Swallow-tailed Kites, 68 Swainson’s Hawks and a species total of 15 to-date. The observed species so far also include Crested Caracara, White-tailed Hawk and Peregrine Falcon.

Corpus Christi has tallied a total of 20,292 raptors by August 31. This is the site’s best August total since 2007. Like Smith Point, the bulk of Corpus Christi’s birds were Mississippi Kites, with a total of  20,064; the best August count for that species since 2007. This year’s Mississippi Kite high count was a result of 4 consecutive days from August 27 to 30 with 4-digit totals each – 1699, 8382, 6902 and 1241 respectively. With 11 species documented so far this season, highlights include 85 Broad-winged Hawks, 14 Ospreys, 10 American Kestrels and 7 Peregrine Falcons.

As more sites begin activity this fall, we hope to keep you updated. Please look for my Gulf/Caribbean Flyway 2011 report on the Hawk Migration Studies Journal, Volume 38, No. 1.

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