Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Temperate and sub-tropical (U.S. and Central America) populations are migratory. Spring migrants begin arriving in the United States (Florida) in early-mid February; fall migrants leave from late July through early September (Meyer 1995, Stevenson and Anderson 1994). In Florida, large numbers (over 2,200) gather in pre-migratory roosts (Bensen 1992, Meyer 1995, Meyer 1998, Millsap 1987, Millsap and Runde 1988). One bird banded as a nestling on Key Largo, Florida was shot approximately 6,500 kilometers away in southeastern Brazil (Mager 1967).
In Costa Rica, migrants arrive between late December and February, and depart between July and September (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Most individuals that breed in the United States migrates southward from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula across the Gulf of Mexico. Others migrate around the Gulf Coast south through eastern Mexico (see Farmer et al. 2008).
Satellite and VHF telemetry data have revealed a narrow migration corridor through eastern Central America, western Colombia, and southeastward around the margins of the Amazon Basin to southwestern Brazil, where marked birds from the U.S. have been consistently found wintering to the north, south, and southeast of the Pantanal (K. Meyer, unpubl. data).
Wintering kites associate with conspecifics of the southern subspecies, E. f. yetapa, which are breeding at this time, and gather nightly in large communal roosts similar to the pre-migration roosts described in Florida (K. Meyer, unpubl. data).
HOME RANGE AND TERRITORY
This species forages up to 24 kilometers from the nest in South Carolina and 22 kilometers from the nest in south Florida (Cely and Sorrow 1990, Meyer and Collopy 1995). The home ranges of three adults in south Florida that did not make extended forays varied from 5.3-30.8 square kilometers; a fourth adult that made long forays ranged over 117.1 square kilometers (Meyer and Collopy 1995). In South Carolina, five adults ranged over an average of 232 square kilometers (range = 89.2-360.4 square kilometers). However, when long forays were ignored, home range size averaged 12.2 square kilometers (range = 4.9-17.1 square kilometers; Cely and Sorrow 1990). Pairs defend from conspecifics an area extending less than 100 meters away from the nest (Meyer 1995).