By Georgia Ackerman, Apalachicola Riverkeeper

Board member Kim Kelling of WFSU Public Media and several of Kim’s family members joined me for a visual survey of the Apalachicola River delta on April 28. Picking them up in the motorboat at Riverfront Park in Apalachicola, I knew immediately we’d be looking for birds on this trip. Everyone was toting their binoculars.  We visited Little St. Marks, St. Mark via Four Tree Cut Off then headed to East River discussing the ecological highlights of the Apalachicola River and Bay system, stopping periodically to identify birds.

The Swallowtail kites did not disappoint, as we saw several darting and diving in search of food.

Swallowtail kite by Steve Kelling

These kites can been found over swamps, marshes, and rivers. At the end of summer, all the Swallow-tailed Kites in the U.S. leave and migrate south to South America.

Steve Kelling, Kim’s brother, spotted a dark morph Short-tailed hawk. Todd Engstrom, Kim’s husband, explained to me this raptor is rare in south Florida and even rarer in north Florida, although one nest was reported in 1890 in Wakulla County.

Steve Kelling’s bird species photos from the trip can be found here.

dark morph Short-tailed hawk by Steve Kelling
Swallowtail kite eating dragonfly by Steve Kelling
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