Annual survival of snail kites in Florida: Radio telemetry versus capture-resighting data

Robert E. Bennetts, Victoria J. Dreitz, Wiley M. Kitchens, James E. Hines, James D. Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We estimated annual survival of Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis) in Florida using the Kaplan-Meier estimator with data from 271 radio-tagged birds over a three-year period and capture-recapture (resighting) models with data from 1,319 banded birds over a six-year period. We tested the hypothesis that survival differed among three age classes using both data sources. We tested additional hypotheses about spatial and temporal variation using a combination of data from radio telemetry and single- and multistrata capture-recapture models. Results from these data sets were similar in their indications of the sources of variation in survival, but they differed in some parameter estimates. Both data sources indicated that survival was higher for adults than for juveniles, but they did not support delineation of a subadult age class. Our data also indicated that survival differed among years and regions for juveniles but not for adults. Estimates of juvenile survival using radio telemetry data were higher than estimates using capture-recapture models for two of three years (1992 and 1993). Ancillary evidence based on censored birds indicated that some mortality of radio-tagged juveniles went undetected during those years, resulting in biased estimates. Thus, we have greater confidence in our estimates of juvenile survival using capture-recapture models. Precision of estimates reflected the number of parameters estimated and was surprisingly similar between radio telemetry and single-stratum capture-recapture models, given the substantial differences in sample sizes. Not having to estimate resighting probability likely offsets, to some degree, the smaller sample sizes from our radio telemetry data. Precision of capture-recapture models was lower using multistrata models where region-specific parameters were estimated than using single-stratum models, where spatial variation in parameters was not taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-447
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999


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