An 18-year study of reproduction and survival of the Florida Everglade (Snail) Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) has revealed the following: extremely poor nesting success (only 13.6% of nests found at the nest-building stage successful); extremely long breeding seasons (some reproductive activity in almost all months in good years); frequent multiple brooding and frequent multiple brooding and frequent renesting after failure; low egg hatchability (81%); high failure rates due to nest collapse, desertion, and predation; extremely high survival of juveniles and adults under good water conditions; and high vulnerability to drought due to near total dependency on a single species of drought-sensitive snail for food. Despite low nesting success, the species has increased rapidly under good conditions, mainly because of multiple nesting attempts within long breeding seasons and high survival rates of free-flying birds. Nesting success varied significantly between regions and nest substrates, but not as a function of seasons or solitary vs. colonial nesting. While nesting success was reduced in low water years, this effect was at least partly due to heavy use of poor nest substrates under such conditions. Clutch size and numbers of young per successful nest varied with regions, but not as a function of seasons or water levels. The effects of coloniality on clutch size and numbers of young were inconsistent. Significant effects of nest-substrate types on clutch size and numbers of young were apparently artifacts of substrate differences between regions.
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Reproduction and demography of the Florida Everglade (Snail) Kite