Calabria loyalists or wanderers: where do free-roaming red kites spend the winter?

On July 27, 2023, eight kites from the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, were released in Aspromonte National Park. Both the Swiss ornithologists and the team of ornithologists from the LIFE MILVUS project were curious to find out what their behavior would be in the fall and winter period.
The question was: will the young red kites move southward, making a real migration, or will they stay around the release area?
The curiosity stems from the fact that, in autumn, part of the Swiss population migrates south to winter in France or southern Spain while part remains in Switzerland even during the winter season.
Well, the eight Red Kites released in the Park for now are evenly divided: as of mid-December, four of them are located in southern Calabria while four have moved to the north-central part of Sicily.
It is particularly interesting to note that the four individuals, who, at different times, moved to Sicily, then "met" each other two by two and joined other conspecifics, with whom they group together in the evening to form social roosts (called roosts), according to a typical habit of the species.
Balu and Andrew were observed together with other red kites forming a group of about 37 individuals. The area where Heidi and Julia are found, however, is frequented by at least seven individuals. Upon arrival in Sicily, ornithologist Angelo Scuderi, alerted to the presence of the young red kites by the LIFE MILVUS team, carried out an initial monitoring visit. Afterwards, ornithologist Andrea Cusmano visited the areas frequented by the raptors and also set up a kennel to provide them with food support.
We will see whether the four walkers will return to Aspromonte National Park or the surrounding area in the spring.

Balù photographed in Sicily

Julia photographed in Sicily (bottom)

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