"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.
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2011 Aplomado Falcon Territory Occupancy Survey Summary - South Texas
Like in years past, we spent approximately one month in southern Texas surveying suitable habitat and, predominantly, historically occupied falcon territories in the areas in and around Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR). The main goal of the survey was to determine territory occupancy.Read more...
2011 South Texas Artificial Nest Structure Work
The days are getting longer, temperatures are climbing, and the wind is making a regular presence tossing up dust and tumbleweeds; doing its best to make working outside miserable…winter is coming to an end and spring in southern New Mexico has arrived. It is time to work on aplomado falcon nest structures for our southern Texas population. Building the nest boxes has always been a very enjoyable part of the job. It sort of reminds me of those childhood projects of building bird houses, chicken coops, benches, etc. Simple yet very effective. When it comes to aplomado falcons, many of these artificial nests are not totally necessary in coastal Texas where the population appears stable and where natural nests, built by other species like white-tailed hawks and Chihuahuan ravens, are abundant. However, what the nest structures do provide, now that we have seemingly worked out their design to its maximum effectiveness, is a very safe place for falcons to nest and ultimately improving nest success and productivity in the population – a scenario often not offered by many natural nests. Essentially, our breeding pairs of aplomado falcons, particularly those utilizing nest boxes, are working as miniature hack (release) sites that at the very least during difficult years (e.g. droughty periods) are apparently able to keep the population at a stable level so long as habitat is available. We can make this statement as we have found recruitment rates of wild fledged young are much higher than that of captive-bred released falcons. So the beneficial role the nest structures provide cannot be overstated.Read more...
From Temples to Tigers: Monitoring Vultures in India
Looking Back: Release Day
I opened the release box door to see several tiny feathered faces staring up at me, patches of down in varying degrees sticking up from the tops of their heads like many tiny white dandelion seeds. I grabbed a small piece of meat from the plate I had carried up with me to the release tower, held it on the edge of my finger, and reached toward D2, the falcon closest to me. He stretched his neck, made a soft cacking noise, and greedily pulled the meat into his beak and swallowed.I offered a few more pieces to the other falcons and they all ate happily. I didn’t want to feed them too much. Today was the day they were going to be released for the first time, and we wanted them to come out of the box and eat on their own, which would help them continue to associate the platform and the box with safety.Read more...
Aplomado Falcon Updates - March 2010
During the second week of March, Angel Montoya, Paul Juergens and I once again completed our annual survey in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, looking for nesting Aplomado Falcons. Unfortunately by the end of the second day, and having collectively driven more than 1,200 miles in much of the best habitat we could look at, only one adult pair was located. This pair was observed at a yucca on the Baeza Ranch complete with a very nice Chihuahuan Raven nest.Read more...
Aplomado Falcons update Feb. 2010
Angel Montoya, Brian Mutch, and I have just wrapped up our trip to South Texas to maintain existing nest structures and place a few new nest boxes in Aplomado Falcon territories.
South Texas Aplomado Falcon update, April-May 2010
As of 14 May, Brian Mutch, Angel Montoya, and I completed the 2010 Aplomado Falcon occupancy survey in South Texas. Tom Cade and Grainger Hunt also visited during the first full week of surveying in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge area. Overall, the results are very similar to what we have observed the last two years.
The falcons looked great, and it was a relief to see the area recovering from one of the most severe droughts on record. Brian and I arrived in South Texas in a torrential downpour, and Angel and I left the area in very similar weather. However, the weather during the survey period was quite favorable, especially during the first three weeks. During the last week of surveying, warm winds out of the southeast and high humidity were the norm. We did make good use of our ATVs early in the survey; although by the end of the survey, all of the roads had dried out and we were able to drive the trucks pretty much anywhere we needed to go. Read more...
Captive Breeding at the World Center for Birds of Prey
At the World Center for Birds of Prey we have bred many species of raptors in captivity. Our goal, however, is not to propagate large numbers of species or individuals, but only the kinds and numbers desired for conservation projects in which we are involved.Read more...
Northern Aplomado Falcon Restoration – 2008 Report
Spring 2008 Aplomado Falcon Project Update
Ants Put a Hitch in Falcon Placement
Thousands of harvester ants were swarming in the desert July 6, when members of the Aplomado Falcon Project arrived to put the birds in their hack boxes. The ants apparently were looking for higher ground. They found it, not only on the blooming yuccas, but also all over the three hack boxes that had been built to house the 11 young falcons scheduled for release July 13. This was not business as usual. Read more...
Spring 2007 West Texas Aplomado Falcon Survey
Greetings, Notes from the Field readers! Fortunately for the crewmembers on the condor project, things were a bit less hectic in April than they had been in the preceding months of 2006. Although the birds did use the beautiful spring weather to begin traveling extensively once again, we’ve come to expect that transition, and the month proceeded primarily as we would have hoped. We continued observations on our two remaining condor nests, both of which were active through the end of the month, in addition to monitoring the encouraging progress of both of last year’s wild-fledged chicks. Read more...
2006 Field Season-March update
2006 Field Season
We’ve accomplished a lot since the last update, so here is a quick summary to get everyone up to
speed: Read more...
2004 Final Notes
As our last hacked Aplomado Falcon reached independence, the 2004 Aplomado field season officially ended. Since January the team worked hard to make 2004 the most successful Aplomado field season in the project’s history. The evidence of this success is reflected in the following numbers. For example, 32 of our “territorial pairs” pairs attempted to nest this year (21 Laguna/Brownsville and 11 Matagorda.) Three “territorial” pairs never attempted to nest and a fourth pair went missing at egg-laying time, never to resurface. Twenty of the “territorial” pairs successfully produced young, while 12 failed during incubating/chick brooding. Only two pairs (who failed) recycled in different nests. Out of the 32 territorial pairs, 54 wild Aplomado Falcons were produced and fledged into the wild (31 around Laguna Atascosa/Brownsville area and 23 on Matagorda Island). Read more...
2004 Field Season Update #2