Friday 4 May 2012


The aforementioned website of the SEO/BirdLife bird migration project shows the movements of several different satellite-tracked species. The latest to be brought into the trawl are four Black-Shouldered Kites (Elanus caeruleus) tagged by the Regional Council of Extremadura (Junta de Extremadura). These birds are resident in Spain so their movements are not as spectacular as the migratory species but the tracking still offers valuable insights. We also phase in information furnished by Ángel Sánchez (Regional Environment Department of Extremadura) and Domingo Rivera (GPEX), and our thanks go to all the people working with this lovely raptor in Extremadura.

 The first Black-Shouldered Kite, a young male called Chemi born in 2010, was tagged in Badajoz on 25.11.10. This makes it the project veteran. For a year it stuck close to the tagging area, normally staying within a radius of 1-5 km. It always used the same roost, shared with another 10-12 of its species plus 5-14 Marsh Harriers and 3-10 Hen Harriers. At the end of the first year, on 24.11.11, it set off westwards. By 04.12.11 it was 60 km away and 90 km away by the 23rd, in Portugal. On 14.01.12 it moved further into Portugal, arriving at the peak, though modest, distance of 170 km from its tagging site, returning quickly thereafter and remaining there up to the last record taken on 08.04.12.

The next two Black Shouldered Kites, a nesting pair of adults, were tagged in Talarrubias (northeast of Badajoz) on 08.04.11. The female (bird number 3, called Bellota) has stuck within a radius of 10 km nearly every day, barring two slightly further forays of 23 km and 17 km. The male (bird number 4, name of Pipo), strayed even less, to a maximum distance of 4 km up to 01.11.11 when the transmitter signals ceased. During 2011 this pair raised a first clutch of four chicks (ringed on 08.04.11), and a second clutch with three fledglings (ringed on 06.07.2011) and a third with another three young (located on 17.09.11). While the male looked after these last youngsters the female moved to a new territory close by (only 2150 m) where it paired with another male, laying another clutch of eggs, the fourth of the year, with four chicks on 25.10.2011. This means that the female Bellota produced 14 young throughout 2011 in four consecutive nests with hardly any rest between. The information on this bird ceased on 11.12.11.

Lastly, a fourth Black-Shouldered Kite (bird 2,called Campana), an adult female, was tagged on 16.06.11, again in Badajoz. One month later (19.07.11) it settled down near Sines, in the Portuguese district of Bajo Alentejo, where each day it made journeys of up to 10 km, with occasional forays up to 40 km. On 09.12.11, the last day with information, it remained in the same area.

Movements of the four Black Shouldered Kites (Elanus caeruleus). To the left, in pink, the male Chemi and in purple the female Campana. The point to the right represents the reduced movements of the pair formed by Bellota and Pipo.