Some points of clarification re: Am. Kestrel declines: I should have distinguished between FL resident breeding vs. winter resident (migrant) populations. I also hoped to focus the issue on vacant winter habitats and not the presence or absence of kestrels in general across the state. My observations were (are) based on decades of experience with local habitats unaffected by storms or other phenomena. We should be aware that population declines can be subtle and possibly pass unnoticed with birds disappearing site by site or territory by territory until an entire region is devoid of birds. While the latter is not likely to occur, the former circumstance is highly probable.

The concern arises when this condition persists from one year to the next, as it is now occurring with NOHA in this region. Although NOHA are currently present in the region, they are no longer occupying some former marsh territories that remain healthy and unchanged. This might well represent a general decline with fewer birds available to exploit all the available habitat. Ditto for AMKE. Many local habitats and/or formerly occupied territories are going vacant this winter. Suitable habitat or the "carrying capacity" would appear stable yet the former seasonal occupants are AWOL. 

On a more positive note: NE Florida (east coast?) birders should anticipate an imminent influx of Bonaparte's gulls and red-breasted mergansers. While participating in GA's annual mid-winter coastal bird survey today (immediately north of Florida line) we observed unprecedented nos. of both species. Today's front apparently pushed a lot of birds down the east coast and the forecast "NEster" should compel them into adjoining NE Florida and points south. 

Patrick Leary, Fernandina Beach, FL

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