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Harpy Eagle Releases in Panama
Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research    Share
At least two of the Harpy Eagles that have been released are hunting on a regular basis and are no longer dependent on food we provide. For a long while, we suspected that these birds were obtaining their own food, but it was not until we began following each of these eagles daily for more than a week, that we could directly confirm their hunting abilities. These two birds are both female and demonstrate a preference for sloths, perhaps due to the fact that a sloth is one prey item that is relatively easy to catch. We believe that sloths are one of the primary animals that young Harpy Eagles catch, and that later, once the birds have refined their hunting techniques, they will begin to capture more difficult prey, like howler monkeys and other primates.

One year has passed since the first eagles were released in Soberania National Park and the transmitters that we placed on the first birds are reaching the end of their life. Before the batteries in these units die, we decided to trap the oldest Harpy Eagles to replace their old radio transmitters. This has allowed us the opportunity to compare, up close, the health and physical condition of these birds. Some have lost a little bit of weight in comparison to when they were first released, but all have shown more strength and their muscle mass has increased. Once the transmitters were replaced, the eagles were re-released.

We have begun to test satellite transmitters on some Harpy Eagles in order to gauge the possibility of using this technology to remotely monitor the movements and dispersal of these birds. We have identified an area within the Bocas del Toro Province in Panama where we will begin to release some eagles that are completely independent of human care.

The selection of a site in which to release Harpy Eagles is a slow process that requires implementing an Environmental Education program in the area as well as gaining the support of local and regional authorities. The first interviews with locals conducted in the area have been very positive. We hope to be able to transport the first bird to this new release area in a few months.

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