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Kite Flight 2022 Kicks Off August 1st!

July 28, 2022
Our SUPER talented counters Mariah Hryniewich & Luis Gles are returning again to count again in 2022

We can’t even believe it’s been 8 months already, but we are beyond thrilled that fall migration is here! As in 2021, we are starting on August 1 to capture the early fall migration of Swallow-tailed Kites. In the US significant numbers of these incredible birds can only be tallied here in Florida and our 2021 count of 1,619 Swallow-taileds was not only a new FKH record but the second highest recorded migration count for this species in the world in last year. By really focussing on this enigmatic species for the first time in ’21 we of course raised the bar on peak daily counts and recorder a new early FKH sight record.

Swallow-tailed Kite count & seasonal occurrence chart courtesy of

the important & relevant Kite Flight data, comes at a cost to our brave volunteers who face hot days and long periods with generally few other raptors migrating by. The only other species that definitely IS on the move in August are Ospreys and due to our expanded season we tallied a new record highseasonal count of 3,744 Osprey in 2021 along with our second highest daily count of 358 on September 4, 2021. Another unexpected August surprise was the passage of 4 individual Northern Harriers, in each case a lone adult male and all were headed straight south to Cuba on August 8th, 16th, 23rd & 31st!

We welcome visitors throughout the season from August 1st through November 30th (weather allowing), but the middle of the count season is generally more rewarding in overall raptor sightings, especially on days with Northerly winds. Kites in August often come through in large kettles with long stretches of nothing in between so unless you specifically want to see this spectacle of Swallow-taileds migrating en masse August may not be your best bet. We tallied only 1,604 total migrant raptors in August ’21 led by Osprey (829) and Swallow-tailed Kites (654).

Swallow-tailed Kite compositeimage showing varying flight profiles

Our largest “Kite Flights” occured in the first week in September in 2021 with 339 tallied on 9/4 and 273 on 9/4, and the third best flight on 8/20 (214). Still a lot to learn though with only one year of count data.

For those wanting greater species diversity and consistently higher numbers, we’d suggest the period from the last week in September through the third week in October. For our world class Peregrine Falcon flights try the week centered on either side of 10/10, which is respectfully referred to as “Day of the Peregrine” or “Dia de los Peregrinos” acknowledging these migrants spend potentially more time in Central & South America than here in the US & Canada as example.

Peregrine Falcon flights by date FKH 2010-2021

As you can see 10/10 remains our stand alone peak day for Peregrine flights followed by the 9th & 11th respectively and people visiting over this three day window have often seen over 1,000 Peregrines on their trip!

chart of top all time 150 daily Peregrine counts at FKH, and why we are known as the “Peregrine Falcon Capital of the World”

Three of our top four all time best PF flights occured on 10/10 (1,506 – 2015, 651 – 2012, 609 – 2021) and all of our top 6 highest flights occuring between 10/9 & 10/11 – see chart above for totals and dates! On each of the last 2 seasons we’ve had streaks of 10 consecutive days with 100 or more Peregrines tallied daily, so if you’ve never experienced a “Peregrine Falcon century count” and want to, the period from 10/7 to 10/13 may be the time frame when you to visit. This is also a peak period for Accipiter flights (Sharp-shinned & Cooper’s) as well as Broad-winged kettles, but the graceful Swallow-tailed Kites have all but “flown the coop”. We will often see our final individual of the season this week.

As we move through the end of October into November we can start to see large flights (some of largest by sheer volume but with less species diversity). In November 2021 we tallied 14,636 raptors culminating in our highest seasonal total of 33,458 raptors tallied (but also over our longest time frame). The November numbers are generally fueled by Turkey Vultures but we often see final big pushes of Broad-winged Hawks this late as well. For specialty species, this is a best time for Short-tailed and Swainson’s Hawks. See the seasonal species occurrence graphs at our site page on to view these graphically, plus see peak flights & average seasonal totals by species.

We’re happy to announce that all of our 2021 corporate and strategic partners agreed once again to provide support, but we still have a it to go to meet our 2022 goal. We’d like to thank all of these folks for continuing to believe in our project as well as all of the individuals who’ve donated and supported us over the years, making FKH the longest continually operating migration monitoring program in the state of Florida (22 years this year and counting)!

For those wishing to make even a modest contribution you can follow the links here: DONATE

Every dollar helps and every penny goes directly to support our project by offsetting the four months of pricey middle Keys rent and providing small stipends to our counters. Anyone potentially interested in joining us as a volunteer counter can contact us directly for more information, and as always, feel free to visit us at gorgeous Curry Hammock State Park (modest entrance fees for park entrance) at 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050. (305) 289-2690.

Weather allowing, you can find us on the hawkwatch 7 days a week from 9 AM – 4 PM (longer on active migration days) from August 1 – November 15th and from 9 – 3 PM November 16 – 30th, 2022. Drop by, say hello, & learn about the migration of raptors and other species over the Florida Keys as well as advanced identification tips. We can’t wait to see all of you out there again this season!

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