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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field

"Notes from the Field" provides frequent updates and pictures from our biologists and students who are working in the field or at our headquarters, the World Center for Birds of Prey.

José de Jesús Vargas González

I am the coordinator of The Peregrine Fund's Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Program in Panama. I’m working together with local indigenous technicians in the amazing rainforest of Darien to accomplish this goal: Conservation of the Harpy Eagle and their habitat through a combination of environmental education; increased involvement from local communities, and basic research aimed at understanding the eagles' population ecology.

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Harpy Eagles: Successful Hunters..!

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Harpy Eagles: Successful Hunters...!

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Adventure with a Harpy Eagle in Alvarado Stream

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Adventure with a Harpy Eagle in Alvarado Stream

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A new Harpy Eagle Festival successfully completed in Panama!

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

A New Harpy Eagle Festival Successfully Completed in Panama!

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Harpy Eagle Festival 2012

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

National Bird of the Republic of Panama

In April 2002, the Government of the Republic of Panama formally declared the Harpy Eagle as the National Bird of Panama through the Law No. 18 of April 10, 2002. From this date, the majestic Harpy Eagle is formally considered a National Symbol for Panamanians. With the enacting of this law, April 10 became an especial ecological day. Therefore, the Fondo Peregrino-Panama, The Peregrine Fund and the National Environmental Authority of Panama promoted the celebration of the especial festival called: Festiarpia.

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The Queen of the Forest Canopy: The Harpy Eagle

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

The following story was narrated by Calixto Conampia during a field trip with Jose Vargas. Calixto is a technician in our conservation and research project in Darien. He has the firm conviction that "learning is never late when you have hopes and dreams."

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An Unforgettable Experience in Darien

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

The field experience below was written by Peter Montgomery (age 17), how was a volunteer in our Harpy Eagle Conservation project in Darien for a couple of weeks. Peter is now known in the communities that he visited by the name Imama Kundra (Young Jaguar in Embera language). In a few weeks, Peter earned the appreciation of local people, who are now wondering and asking frequently, When Imama Kundra comes back?

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A Special Day for the National Bird of Panama

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

On Sunday 10 of April, 2011, Panamanians celebrated a special date: The Day of the National Bird of Panama, the Harpy Eagle Day. News in national newspapers, invitations through the radio and TV stations, and chain e-mails were the most common means of communications during the weeks that preceded the celebration event called FestiHarpia.

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Another step in our learning: GPS technology and the capture of an adult Harpy Eagle in the wilderness of Darien,Panama

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Hidden among the vegetation that provide habitat for large Neotropical predators as Harpy Eagles and Jaguars, Calixto Conampia, Rutilio Calderon, Darisnel Carpio and me, waited in silence for three consecutive days (thirty-six hours time sloth between 6 am and 3 pm) until we captured the adult female Harpy Eagle in the fourth day in the province of Darien, Panama. The eagle was captured in the vicinity of the nest, which is located an hour and fifteen minutes from an indigenous Embera community that collaborates and participates in the Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Program.

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Who I was, where I am and who I want to be

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Editor's note: The following is an article by Darisnel Carpio Cardenas, who is working on the Harpy Eagle project in his home area of Darien.

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Experiences with the Reintroduction of a Captive-bred Harpy Eagle into a wild Ecosystem in Darien, Panama.

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Two seasons have gone by in the Neotropical forest of Darien since the release of the Harpy Eagle called KC, well-known in the local community as Nepono, which means “flower” in the Embera language. KC was released into the Forest Reserve of Chepigana with several goals in mind - all of which are aimed at developing guidelines for a successful reintroduction of captive-bred Harpy Eagles in natural environments where wild Harpy Eagles already live. We decided to release KC in the forest surrounding the community of La Marea, for several reasons. But, the main idea was to influence a courtship between our captive-bred bird and a resident wild male Harpy Eagle that recently lost his mate.

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Adventure in the Forests of Darien: Who is Nepono? A Children’s Perspective

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

“Nepono is a four-year-old Harpy Eagle that hatched in captivity in Panama City. She is curious, calm, observant, and, most importantly, a peaceful bird: this eagle would never cause any harm to people. We should protect and conserve her in this amazing forest.” This was the answer Embera technician, Liofano Berrugate, gave to a child’s question, ”who is Nepono?”

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Harpy Eagle Release Update—May 2009

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

I was with the technicians in Darien on Sunday 24 May and Monday 25 May, organizing KC’s monitoring schedule. We also obtained and revised the data already collected from the wild juveniles.

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Looking for a Flower “Nepono”

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

In a shack immersed in the middle of the forest, the sound of a bird, a monkey howl, and the lovely call of a small girl wakes me up this morning. The little girl calls me “Embera Torro,” which means “white Embera.”

Landscape in the study area
Landscape in the study area
Meanwhile, while I am mentally planning the day’s activities, I hear someone calling me: “Harpy Eagle, the coffee is ready,” and then I stand up to meet with the Embera family to have a breakfast. It is around 4:30 am. After a cold shower, each member of the Harpy Eagle team is ready to look for “Nepono,” the female Harpy Eagle that was hatched in captivity, and that is now part of an experimental study aimed at gaining a better understanding of the ecology of this bird of prey. The name “Nepono” means flower in the Embera dialect. This name comes from a young child from La Marea community, who identified our bird with this nickname.

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Traditional Embera and Wounaan Children Stories Contest

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Another day on Harpy Eagle conservation concluded last April, as we finally awarded the winners of the Embera and Wounaan Children Story Contest. This award ceremony is somehow different, and it was not limited to choosing just one winner.

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A Day of Rest in Darién

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Waking up early in the morning can be a stressing affair in the city, but surrounded by the songs of many birds and the constant chirping of crickets, it is something wonderful. I have often asked myself, “How do these sounds come together to create such beautiful music?” After being awakened from such melody, a quick and refreshing shower is a way to start preparing for a good day of work in Darien, as they say in Embera. They take a shower sometimes three or four times a day. But today is Sunday, day of rest! There are a thousand and one things to do in the forest, but today we wanted to do something a bit different, talk about the costumes and traditions of the Embera and Wounaan community. Most of my work here is shared with six young members of the Embera and Wounaan community.

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Campaigning for Partnerships in Harpy Eagle Conservation Amongst Indigenous Communities in Panama

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

To spend a day traveling by boat or on foot in Panama’s Darien is always an experience to be savored. Andrew Heath and I spent two fantastic weeks there, visiting all 12 villages of the Sambu Shire to campaign for support of a cooperative agreement between the Embera and Wounaan people and The Peregrine Fund.

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November 2001

José de Jesús Vargas González — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

We left Panama City, heading to the Darien which is an hour away by plane. The Darien Region is one of the richest ecosystems of the country, and is the habitat of the Harpy Eagle, Orange Breasted Falcon, and many other raptors. At the town of LaPalma, a member of an indigenous community would guide us to Manene, a small village located a day's worth of travel by dug-out canoe upstream of the River Balsa. Travel by canoe is quite an adventure; one can observe Osprey, perching Bat Falcons, egrets feeding, and many other birds. Admiring the fauna and vast colors of the surrounding trees and scenery along the river, we finally reach our destination.

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