The Peregrine Fund Home
Sign In
The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Orange-breasted Falcon Project Update—April 2005
Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project    ShareWith the success of last month’s trip to Belize (see Notes from the Field, March 2005), Angel and I were looking forward to our next visit. Last time we were in Belize, we had seen some interesting courtship behavior in a few of the Orange-breasted Falcon pairs and were hoping to find at least one pair already on eggs. Meanwhile, the three eggs we brought to Panama last time were just about ready to hatch and we had to finalize plans for their potential release. So, on 30 March, Angel and I headed to Belize. Our mission: secure all necessary materials for construction of a hack box and tower, transport them for over an hour up a rocky, hilly, bumpy road, build the hack box and tower and then visit an Orange-breasted Falcon nest that we believed was incubating — all in one week!

We started off in Belmopan, Belize’s capital, buying lumber, paint, nails, fencing materials and everything else we needed to build a sturdy hack box and tower. Our next dilemma was how to haul all the materials to Hidden Valley Inn in the Mountain Pine Ridge area where we will be conducting the releases. However, after speaking with Craig and Lisa Milner, the managers of the Inn, they sent one of their trucks to help us carry the lumber.

Angel Muela with the Orange-breasted Falcon hack box
Angel Muela with the Orange-breasted Falcon hack box
That night we arrived at the Inn ready to start building the next day. We had no idea how long it would take, but with help from the Hidden Valley Inn staff, we had a hack box and tower built and in place in just under two days! While we worked, Lisa and Craig were kind enough to let us stay on the property. Hidden Valley Inn is a birder’s paradise, especially if you are interested in raptors. Apart from the OBFs, we saw Laughing Falcons, a Stygian Owl, a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Roadside Hawks, Swallow-tailed Kites and of course, a myriad of King Vultures!

Once the hack box was complete, our next step was to begin monitoring a few pairs of OBF’s that we thought were nesting. We visited one pair whose nest is on a large wall just above a clear, calm river with a small sandy beach. We suspected these birds were just about to lay eggs the last time we were here and we both were anxious to see what they were up to. With the help of volunteers Chris Hatten and Ryan Phillips, we hiked our way up to the top of the cliff. Angel descended to the nest, but unfortunately, there was nothing to find. This nest had failed. All that was left were some feathers and some bones from prey animals. However, we did see both birds, and the male brought the female some food which indicates they might be in courtship behavior again and could attempt to re-nest.

We were a bit discouraged, and time was running out. We had to return to Panama in just a few days. Without wasting time, we headed back to Hidden Valley Inn to check out what the pair of OBFs on that property was up to. Unfortunately, the weather had turned cold and the birds were not active. We spent over six hours observing the cliff, without ever seeing a bird. Finally, the next morning, and the day before we were supposed to return to Panama, the weather broke and there were clear, sunny blue skies—a good omen for us.

Adult Orange-breasted Falcon with three eggs
Adult Orange-breasted Falcon with three eggs
We awoke early and headed to the cliff. In under an hour, we located the male perched atop a dead pine tree. Minutes later, the female came flying full steam up and after a King Vulture that had gotten too close to her nest. After a hot pursuit that lasted for several minutes, she quickly returned to the cliff wall where Angel saw her enter and disappear behind a small ledge: the nest! Immediately, we got the climbing gear ready. Angel once again descended to the nest and brought back three beautiful mottled eggs.

The very next day, we were on a plane back to Panama, exhausted but happy. We arrived around midnight and, with help from Saskia and Mary, placed the eggs in an incubator. But our night wasn’t over yet. While we were in Belize, the three eggs we had brought last time had hatched and we were greeted by the sight of three fluffy, downy chicks welcoming us home!

Recently hatched Orange-breasted Falcon chicks
Recently hatched Orange-breasted Falcon chicks

Find more articles about Orange-breasted Falcon, Neotropics

Most Recent Entries Atom feedshow-hide

Our Authorsshow-hide

Our Conservation Projectsshow-hide

Species we work withshow-hide

Where we workshow-hide

Unknown column 'Hits' in 'field list'
Support our work - Donate