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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.

Found 102 entries matching your request:

A Hawk's Story

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

As biologists, we aren't "supposed" to get attached to the animals we work with. We are often taught to be objective and analytical, but this is much harder said than done. This is especially true when, as in our case, we begin working with the Ridgway's Hawks when they are still too young to fly and monitor them on a daily basis for up to 3 months. We observe them on their initial flight attempts, and their sometimes wobbly landings. We worry about them on their first nights out of the release box and hope that they roost in safe spots and avoid being caught by predators. We watch them as they practice hunting and cheer when we find them with wild caught prey for the first time. After they disperse, or leave the release area, we track their movements and hope that they will continue to remain out of harm's way. One of our greatest fears is that they will end up shot or otherwise harmed by humans. We do all this work (and all this worrying) as part of our Assisted Dispersal program, wherein we release wild hatched young into other protected areas within Dominican Republic as a means to help create additional sustainable populations of this species in parts of its former range.

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AV and ND, The Adventure Continues...

Thomas Hayes — in West Indies Project

For the last three years, my wife Christine, my daughter (now 4 years old) Mojave, and I have spent half the year in the Dominican Republic monitoring the last remaining population of the critically endangered Ridgway's Hawk. We have also been a part of a reintroduction team to release this rare raptor into novel habitat in one of the Dominican Republic's most renouned resort areas, Punta Cana. Below is the latest account of "The Valentines Day Pair", written by Christine Deegear Hayes.

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All's Well that Ends Well: The Continuing Adventures of the Valentine's Day Pair

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

The next morning – the beginning of the fourth day with no sign of the female from the Valentine’s Day Pair (see Notes from the Field, 22 April 2013) started off gloomy. Dark clouds rolled across the sky and the weather ranged from heavy down pours to just raining really hard.I had decided that this would be a good day to catch up on office work, updating field notes and data entry, mainly.I had been working for a about an hour or so when a break in the weather finally came.About twenty minutes later my phone started ringing. It was Henry, one of the guards working in Cap Cana within the Valentine’s Day Pair’s territory. “Estoy mirando los dos gavilanes,” he told me. He was seeing two hawks! I quickly gathered my gear – my binoculars andtheradio telemetry receiver wrapped in as many plastic bags as I could find to keep it dry (it had started raining again) – and headed out to the site

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Trouble in Paradise: An Update on the Valentine's Day Pair

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

The sky was clear except for a few expansive clouds tinged pink by the rays of the rising sun. Egrets lazily flew by overhead, their great wings flapping golden in the early morning light. It was early and the air was cool and light, heavy only with the faint scent of the ocean tagging along on the tail end of an occasional breeze. The grass was green, the palm trees waved whenin thewind and the bougainvillea bloomed bright fuchsia. It seemed like a perfect day here in Dominican Republic, and it almost was, except for one nagging detail. This was going on the third day that we hadn’t seen the female, ND, from the Valentine’s Day Pair (see Notes from the Field, 20 March 2013).Up until a few days ago, she was regularly seen side by side with male AN as they worked together to build their nest, perched together, or fed together.Since ND’s radio transmitter wasn’t functioning, I had no way to track her so for two days I kept a close eye on AN. I hoped he would lead me to her, but he was always alone and often vocalizing loudly, as if calling for her. He never received a reply.

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The Valentine's Day Pair

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

For the past three field seasons, Christine and Thomas Hayes and I have been working on The Peregrine Fund's Ridgway's Hawk Conservation Project. Ridgway's Hawks are a critically endangered species with the only known breeding population found in a small national park in Dominican Republic. Christine and Thomas spend about 6 months of the year in-country monitoring the wild pairs in Los Haitises National Park and helping with releases of young birds. Since 2008 The Peregrine Fund has been releasing young wild birds into protected areas in the hopes of creating additional self-sustaining populations. For the first time, two of our released birds have paired up and are making a nesting attempt. What follows is Christine' account of her observations of this exciting moment in our project's history!

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Survey of an Orange-breasted Falcon Eyrie

Camille Meyers — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

My day started at 5:00 am when we headed out to go monitor another Orange-breasted Falcon eyrie. We drove for about an hour then parked by a river near a remote village. We grabbed our gear and hit the trail. It started out flat and well maintained. The further along we went, the denser the jungle became and the less distinct the trail. We walked over a carpet of dark red-brown wet leaves and limestone rocks green with lichen and moss. Then from overhead we heard a familiar ka-ka-ka-ka and saw the aerodynamic shapes of our quarry through a break in the canopy. We were on the right track.

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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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Raptor Conservation and the Kindness of Strangers

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

It was just past 7 p.m. and the sun was quickly setting behind the fields of sugar cane and grass that lined the narrow road. Roaring motorcycles, and buses with music blaring from their windows whizzed past me, their lights fading into the darkness as I made my way slowly towards La Herradura – one of the release sites for the Ridgway’s Hawk in the Dominican Republic.I was on my way there with two young hawks in tow and a large bag filled with frozen meat (hawk food). I was coming from Los Limones – the small town that borders Los Haitises National Park, where the last known population of this species exists. As part of The Peregrine Fund and the Hispaniolan Ornithological Society’s conservation efforts, we are conducting an assisted dispersal project whereby we take up to 10 chicks from wild nests and release them in other protected areas in the country, in the hopes that they will eventually breed and establish additional wild populations. That afternoon, my co-workers in Los Limones, Thomas and Christine Hayes, had just returned from the field with two healthy, beautiful chicks and my job was to get them safely to the release site.

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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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In Search of AC

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

It was still dark – 3:00 in the morning to be exact. I woke up, dressed, gathered the telemetry receiver, binoculars, rope, machete, food and water that I would need for the day and headed out into the field. I was in search of AC – a young Ridgway’s Hawk that had been released four days prior, but had not yet returned to the release site for food.

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Releasing Ridgway's Hawks

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

On April 13, Thomas and Christine Hayes and I placed two young wild-hatched Ridgway’s Hawks into the hack box (a special enclosure designed to temporarily house the birds prior to release) set in a high tree overlooking the forest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. As part of an assisted dispersal program carried out by The Peregrine Fund and the Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola, the chicks would spend one week in the box before being released into their new home. The seven days spent in the enclosure gives them time to become accustomed to their new surroundings.

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A Hack Site Attendant's Experience in Dominican Republic

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

With only an estimated 200-250 individuals left in the world, and the only known sustainable population found in Los Haitises National Park (LHNP), Dominican Republic, the Ridgway’s Hawk is a critically endangered species in need of strong conservation actions. The Peregrine Fund,in conjunctionwith the Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola, has been studying this species for years, and has begun what is known as an “assisted dispersal” program. The idea behind this is to take wild hatched chicks from some nests in LHNP and release them in other areas of the island where this species once existed that still contain suitable habitat. The hope is that, eventually, this will create additional populations on the island, thus making the species as a whole less vulnerable to major catastrophes such as hurricanes or disease outbreak.

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Of Forests and Fires

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

Lush. Green. Verdant. Vibrant. This is what the forest in Los Haitises National Park (Dominican Republic)should look like. This is what it did look like once upon a time – before fires and machetes felled much of it to the ground.I have been brought to this small patch of uncut forest by my friend and co-worker, Nohine, who has been a part of the Ridgway’s Hawk Project for years and who knows the layout of the hills and trails of this park like most people know the layout of their own back yards. When we first enter the shaded landscape, I can feel the temperature drop 10 degrees - if not more. Nohine shows me an endemic palm tree and a large Ceiba tree – the first one I have seen since my arrival in the Dominican Republic in early March. I can hear songbirds singing in the trees and butterflies of all colors and sizes abound. For a few moments, I can pretend that this is all there is – just flowers and trees and winged creatures. I can forget the tragic loss of land that we witnessed today. But alas, we can’t spend much time here – maybe ten minutes or so. It is getting late. We have been walking for more than 5 hours and still have a ways to go before we get back to the cabin, so we grab our packs and head back onto the trail – back into the blazing hot sun and the now even-more-noticeable lack of trees to shade us.

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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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First Ridgway's Hawk Chicks of the Season Hatch

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

Adult Ridgway's Hawk.
Photo by Jorge Brocca.

A cacophony of sounds surround me: the rhythmic hymns that float from open church doors, the braying of donkeys, the clop, clop, clop of horses trotting down the cobblestone street, the screaming laughter of children, the roar of motorcycles, the occasional Michael Jackson tune blaring from someone’s home, and finally, the high whistle of a Ridgway’s Hawk as it flies into view. This particular Ridgway’s Hawk is the adult male from the “Titico” pair which is nesting in a high palm tree just inside the town of Los Limones in the Dominican Republic. The town itself is small, with houses built of wood and palm, where roosters, dogs and goats roam with equal abandon.Here, the people are friendly and welcoming, greeting you with a “buenos dias” or an “hola” or a silent, cheery wave. Vendors young and old walk the streets selling sweets: coconut bread or toasted sugary peanuts something akin to peanut brittle, and men carrying machetes and wearing gum boots walk to their “conucos” (fields) to plant and harvest corn, squash, yucca, bananas, and many other delicious foods. Sour oranges grow everywhere in the forest and make for a delicious treat after hours of hiking beneath a hot sun. The town of Los Limones, just outside of Los Haitises National Park where the largest concentration of this species is found, is where we are stationed for the next few months as we survey for nesting pairs of Ridgways Hawks.To date this year, we have found about 35 pairs and all but two seem to be in some stage of nesting.

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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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This Year's Release Season Comes to an End

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Adult male Orange-breasted Falcon

This is the last time I will stand on this spot in the Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize watching these particular Orange-breasted Falcons chase and dive after each other across a grayish sky. It is the last time I will watch these five birds land deftly in the pine trees that surround the hack site, or hear them utter their loud, rapid fire calls - cack, cack, cack - as a vulture lazily glides over the hack site, unwittingly entering into a “no fly zone” – at least in the eyes of the falcons who will be off in an instant, diving and stooping at this “intruder” until it clears an acceptable distance understood only by those blessed with wings.

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Looking Back: Release Day

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Spending time together after release

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.

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Looking Back: The Start of Release Season

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Young captive-bred Orange-breasted Falcon

As the release season for Orange-breasted Falcons winds down, and I am now back in Boise at The Peregrine Fund’s headquarters, I can’t help but think about the great season that we had this year. I also realized that we didn’t write much about the releases themselves, so I hope to remedy that with the next few entries...

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Emergency Search for a Harpy Eagle and Orange-breasted Falcon Update

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Harpy Eagle in Belize

Almost since its inception, The Peregrine Fund has enlisted the help of volunteers to assist in a wide variety of projects. Today, we continue to rely on the passion and commitment our volunteers possess. Through the Harpy Eagle and Orange-breasted Falcon Conservation projects alone, we have trained almost 90 volunteers from 16 different countries. Volunteers spend anywhere from 3 months to several years tracking eagles through the forest, gathering nesting data on wild falcons, or observing and caring for young birds after their release.

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Searching for the Orange-breasted Falcon in Southern Guatemala

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Despite the noise-cancelling head phones, the thump-thump-thump of the helicopter blades sounded in my ears. From the empty space where the door should have been (it was removed to give us better visibility) a blast of cool air rushed past my face as I peered down into the thick green tangle of trees just below us. Their ragged branches and verdant leaves were so close I expected them to scrape the bottom of the helicopter at any moment. Suddenly, to our left, we saw a large white cliff jutting out from the forest floor. We banked toward it, and then approached slowly. When we were directly in front of it, the pilot slowed the helicopter even further so that we were literally hovering what seemed like just a few feet from the actual cliff face, as my co-worker Angel Muela and I scanned the area. After only a few minutes, Angel pointed to a dark shape flying swiftly above the canopy – its pointed wings beating the air furiously. It was a falcon for sure, but we weren’t sure yet if it was the species we were looking for. Our mission that day was to find Orange-breasted Falcons - a rare raptor that The Peregrine Fund has been studying since the 1980s.

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Banding the Orange-breasted Falcon in Belize

Yeray Seminario — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

I still don’t understand how some of the places we visit once and again in Belize, are not more popular and better known to the average tourist. In this globalized, fast communicating, social network world, we receive on our backlit screens, the very same pictures taken from millions of different people - the same picture, the same landscape, the same feature time after time. It seems we tend to replicate that mental image, that stereotypic picture, that for some reason has captivated our collective imagination. Thousand Foot Falls or King Vulture Falls in Belize, could easily fit in this category of iconic images, as an example of real wilderness and pristine paradise.

A male Orange-breasted Falcon
A male Orange-breasted Falcon

Maybe coincidentally or maybe not, these are probably the two best spots in the world to see the Orange-breasted Falcon. Many birders come to the Mountain Pine Ridge in Belize just to see the falcons, but in doing so, they find themselves in some beautiful and unique scenery, which makes their sighting much more valuable than the simple act of adding another species to their life list.

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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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Orange-breasted Falcon Release 2009 – Update

Jenn Sinasac — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Belize is truly an amazing country – not only does it have the second largest barrier reef in the world, but it also boasts some of the most beautiful and expansive forest in Central America where Scarlet Macaws still paint the sky with their beautiful colours. It is also home to one of the only populations of Orange-breasted Falcons in Central America. Upon my arrival to Belize, I was greeted by Marta Curti and Yeray Seminario, who were already getting things set up for this year’s release. After a quick stop for some supplies, we were on our way up a bumpy hill into the vast Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, to the site where the birds would be released. The site, named Hidden Valley, is one of the highest points in the Mountain Pine Ridge and is located on an eastward-facing peninsula with a clear view to Belmopan, Belize’s capitol. A beautiful cascade waterfall off in the distance was only a small element of this release site.

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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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A New Pair of Orange-breasted Falcons Found in Guatemala

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Of all the raptor species that I have had the good fortune to work with, the Orange-breasted Falcon (OBF) is truly one of the most captivating. Its bright plumage, almost awkwardly large feet, and its aerial speed and agility coupled with the fact that there is still so much to learn about its behavior and habits, makes it a fascinating species to work with. At the same time, this falcon’s habitat, which consists of sometimes remote cliffs surrounded by dense Neotropical forest, makes it a very challenging species to study. While some of the nest sites are very easy to access; others require much longer, more strenuous hikes, and some are only reached by helicopter.

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Rehabilitated Wild Harpy Eagle Flies Free Once Again

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Probably the greatest threat that the Harpy Eagle faces in the short-term is that of human persecution. Many of the reported “sightings” that occur throughout its range (from southern Mexico to northern Argentina) involve the bird being shot and more often than not, killed. As a means to mitigate human-caused mortality of this species, The Peregrine Fund began an extensive environmental education program in Panama in 2001, to coincide with the Harpy Eagle captive breeding and release programs.

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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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Orange-breasted Falcon Update

Yeray Seminario — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Nak Chen
Nak Chen
The Las Cuevas Research Station is located in the heart of the Chiquibul National Park, the largest reserve in all of Belize. That is where I met up with Chapal – a local guide who would accompany me for the next few days during our trip to Nak Chen (which means “large hole” in Mayan). Nak Chen is one of the largest sinkholes in the area. We located it during an over flight conducted last year. From the air, these sinkholes appear enormous, and seem to be the perfect spot in which to find the rare Orange-breasted Falcon, our real motive for hiking into the deepest parts of the Chiquibul.

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Harpy Eagle Release Update-March 2009

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

The question: can we successfully release a captive-bred female Harpy Eagle into the territory of an adult wild male, who recently lost his mate? In order for the release to be considered a success, the female would have to remain in the male’s territory, with the idea that they would eventually form a pair bond and produce offspring. To increase the chances of the male and the female interacting, The Peregrine Fund field technicians working in the area constructed a specially designed aviary within the male’s territory, very close to the original nest tree. The idea would be to hold the female in the aviary for two to three weeks, while observing from a blind a few meters away. Biologists would make sure that the female was safe and eating, but also record any interaction between the two eagles: the male perching on or near the aviary; the male bringing the female food; or both of them vocalizing together would all be good signs that they may form a pair bond. If none of these behaviors are observed, then the female will not be released in that area.

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Another Successful Harpy Eagle Day Celebration

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

For the fourth year in a row, The Peregrine Fund-Panama’s education department hosted “Festiarpia,” a festival held in celebration of Harpy Eagle Day on 13 April 2008. Harpy Eagle Day, which officially falls on the 10th of April, commemorates the law that officially declared the Harpy Eagle as the national bird of Panama. This year, as last year, we joined forces with the Summit Zoo and Botanical Gardens to make the celebration even more special. The festival was held on the zoo grounds, which are located adjacent to Soberania National Park and which boast an amazing amount of wide open green space.

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Harpy Eagle Release Program Update

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

In 2005 we released an independent male Harpy Eagle named DT into the Rio Bravo area of northern Belize. After several months, he began dispersing in a westerly direction. He crossed the Belize/Guatemala border and soon arrived at Tikal National Park (TNP). For the past few months, he has remained within the park boundaries, and, more recently, has begun to display the first signs of breeding behavior: defense of territory and rudimentary nest building.

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NEEP Makes Second Visit to Guatemala

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Since 2002, The Peregrine Fund-Panama (TPFP) has been conducting an intensive environmental education program in communities near Harpy Eagle release sites and in areas where wild Harpy Eagles remain. In 2003, when we began releasing this species in Belize, we teamed up with The Belize Zoo, and thanks to their work through community visits, billboards, newspaper articles, and radio programs, the Harpy Eagle is now a household name in that country!

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Orange-breasted Falcon Release Update

Yeray Seminario — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Female Orange-breasted Falcon <br />perched near hack box.
Female Orange-breasted Falcon
perched near hack box.
Four days ago, one of the Orange-breasted Falcon’s (OBF) released in Belize gave us a gratifying surprise. The female called AB, 108 days old, captured her first avian prey.

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Orange-breasted Falcon Release Update

Erin Strasser — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Adult OBF perched at the cliff edge.
Adult OBF perched at the cliff edge.
Howler Monkeys pierce the early morning air, adding to a dawn chorus of Keel-billed Toucans, Carolina Wrens, and Brown Jays. A limestone cliff appears through a veil of mist as an adult male Orange-breasted Falcon with prey lands on a dead tree near the top of the cliff. Two hundred feet below, a falcon calls, and the male swoops down to meet his mate, expertly exchanging prey on the wing. The female eats her fill, caches the remaining prey in a mahogany, and returns to her eyrie on the cliff wall.

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Third Annual Harpy Eagle Day Celebration the Biggest Success Yet

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Thanks to the efforts of many individuals, organizations and groups, the government of Panama officially declared the Harpy Eagle as the nation’s national bird on 10 April 2002. In order to commemorate this momentous act for raptor conservation, and to make the general public more aware of the Harpy Eagle, The Peregrine Fund began hosting an annual festival, called “Festiarpia,” in 2005. It started out as a small activity, with approximately 500 people participating. This year, its third year, we had the best turnout yet, with more than 3,000 people attending this event.

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Released Harpy Eagles Disperse Throughout the Selva Maya

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

The Selva Maya – an expanse of forest that reaches into Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, is the largest contiguous forest in Central America. In the heart of this tropical jungle, at the Rio Bravo Management Area, Belize, The Peregrine Fund has been releasing independent, captive-bred Harpy Eagles since 2004, as part of our Harpy Eagle Conservation Program. Since the first bird was released from her kennel and took her first tentative flights into her new home, we have released 10 independent sub-adult Harpy Eagles into this area. All released birds are fitted with a PTT transmitter that allows us to track their movements via satellite.

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NEEP reaches out to Belize, southern Mexico, and Guatemala

Sean Davis — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

The Neotropical Environmental Education Program (NEEP) for Latin America and the Caribbean is based in Panama. The majority of our work is within Panama, however, on occasion our services are needed in other parts of Latin America, and such was the case in early January 2007. As many of you already know, the Harpy Eagle Propagation Program has been releasing captive bred Harpy Eagles back into the wild in a remote area in northwestern Belize. All of the birds that are released are equipped with satellite transmitters so we can monitor their movements and dispersal patterns. The birds are released in a heavily forested area that connects with the Peten Forest that extends into Guatemala and southern Mexico. A few of these birds have covered distances much greater than expected while exploring their new home. With the hope of ensuring a safer future for these birds through community education, NEEP embarked on a journey to Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico.

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Releasing Harpy Eagles at an Older Age May Help them Reach Independence Faster

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

When we first began releasing captive-bred Harpy Eagles in Panama, we did so when they were approximately six months old in order to mimic their natural fledging age. While the releases went smoothly, we noticed that it took the young birds between six months and up to two years before they were hunting on their own. This is consistent with the development patterns of wild-born Harpy Eagles as well. However, whereas adult Harpy Eagles are prepared to continue feeding their young for this amount of time, the effort was time consuming and difficult for our volunteers and biologists who were often tracking and feeding up to ten released birds or more at a time. In order to test the theory that releasing birds at an older age would significantly decrease the time it takes them to become independent, we began releasing them at around 18 months of age. To date, we have released four birds, two males and two females, at this advanced age.

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Bocas del Toro—October 2006

Sean Davis — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Saskia and I had to be at the airport at 6:00 a.m. for the 6:30 flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro. Luckily, we did not have to submit to the requisite “two-hour-before-take-off wait” or extensive security checks. The trip to Changuinola, the capital of the sparsely populated province that borders Costa Rica, is a short, one-hour puddle jumper flight. As we were approaching Changuinola we could see miles and miles of banana plantations that seem to surround and almost swallow up this small provincial capital town.

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Neotropical Environmental Education Program Visits Darien

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

One of the three main target areas for our education program is Darien, the western-most province of Panama, located along the border of Colombia. This area still maintains an amazing amount of forest and wildlife, is one of the last strongholds for Harpy Eagles in Central America, and therefore is a key area for our education work. We have been working in Darien for several years now and we have presented talks, games and films about the Harpy Eagle, raptors, top predators, and migration.

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NEEP Makes Preliminary Educational Visits to Mexico

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

One of the greatest threats to Harpy Eagles in the short term is human persecution. In order to prevent our released birds (see our Notes From the Field-Harpy Eagle Releases for more information) from getting shot, trapped or otherwise injured at the hands of humans, The Peregrine Fund-Panama has been conducting an intensive environmental education program in Panama for the past four years. In 2003, we expanded our release program into Belize and, subsequently, began a partnership with the Belize Zoo in order to provide quality environmental education to children and adults in that country.

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Remote Camera Gives a Peek into the Mysterious World of Orange-breasted Falcons

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Male Orange-breasted Falcon
Male Orange-breasted Falcon
In early March of this year, we installed a camera in one of the active Orange-breasted Falcon nests in Belize with the hopes of learning more about this species’ breeding behavior (see Notes from the Field March, 2006). The camera was designed to film all nest activity during daylight hours. In addition to the camera, we had three of our biologists, Chris Hatten, Ryan Phillips and Phil Hannon, and one volunteer, Cody Phillips, monitoring the nest to record all the activities that would occur off camera, such as hunting, food exchanges between the male and female, and nest defending. Chris, Ryan, Phil, and Cody each took turns camping at the nest to record behavior, identify prey species and to recharge the battery to the camera and download the footage every few days.

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Festiarpía 2006- The Harpy Eagle Festival

Sean Davis — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

On 10 April 2002 the Harpy Eagle was officially declared the national bird of Panama. This law also served to afford the Harpy Eagle more protection by imposing harsh fines for anyone who captured, killed, or trafficked this species. In 2005, to commemorate this special day, The Peregrine Fund-Panama held the first annual Harpy Eagle Festival (Festiarpía). We wanted to host a special event to educate the public about the Harpy Eagle and raise awareness of the threats and dangers to this large forest raptor through a series of activities and games. We also invited other conservation organizations working in Panama to use this opportunity to network with each other and to set up booths and displays for general public awareness. It turned out to be a very successful day and left us with every intention to do it again in 2006.

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Installing Remote Camera at Orange-breasted Falcon Nest Proves Challenging

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

The Peregrine Fund has been studying the elusive Orange-breasted Falcon (OBF) throughout Central and South America since the mid 1970s. Despite all of our efforts, however, there is still much to be learned about the habitat needs, reproduction and diet preferences for this species. In an attempt to garner more information about their nesting behavior, we decided to place a camera into one of the wild nests in Belize. However, this would not be as easy as it sounds.

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Educational Guides and Teacher Training Workshops Go Hand in Hand to Further Raptor Conservation in Panama

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

The Peregrine Fund-Panama’s Neotropical Environmental Education Program (NEEP) is currently focused on working in three main target areas within Panama. The first area consists of 16 communities surrounding Soberania National Park (SNP) where The Peregrine Fund-Panama is soft releasing young Harpy Eagles (see Notes from the Field Harpy Eagle Releases). The second area includes 21 communities in Darien, the region that borders with Colombia, and where a significant population of wild Harpy Eagles remains. Most recently, we have begun to work in 13 communities in the Bocas del Toro region, where we have already released several independent Harpy Eagles and where some wild Harpy Eagles still remain.

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Update on the Harpy Eagle Captive Breeding Program

Saskia Santamaria — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Harpy Eagles usually lay a clutch of two eggs, and although both may hatch, usually only one chick survives to fledge. Once fledged, the juvenile may stay with its parents for a period of up to two or three years while it learns to hunt and care for itself. Once the young becomes independent and starts looking for its own mate and territory the adults are able to attempt breeding again. This long interval between breeding attempts and resulting slow rate of reproduction makes the species extremely vulnerable to direct human impact, such as persecution (shooting and trapping), long before deforestation destroys their habitat.

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Adventures with Stella: Relocating a Harpy Eagle, January 2006

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

The task seemed straightforward enough: travel to Belize, help two members of our field crew, Chris Hatten and Ryan Phillips, capture a female Harpy Eagle named Stella, and relocate her to a safer place. Stella is one of four captive reared Harpy Eagles that The Peregrine Fund released into the Chiquibul Forest in western Belize. However, when incursions into the area by poachers became a concern for the Harpy Eagles’ safety, we decided to relocate them into a safer expanse of forest in northern Belize. By this time, Stella had moved roughly 18 kilometers from the release site and was spending most of her time in a rugged, karstic limestone area of the forest that is very difficult to traverse on foot. To make matters more difficult, very little fresh water sources are found in the area, so all of the water needed for the journey, we had to carry.

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First Teacher Training Workshop Hosted by Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

For the past two years, we at Fondo Peregrino-Panama’s Neotropical Environmental Education Program have been working on an educational guide based on birds of prey, designed for teachers working with students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The guide, entitled “Las Aves Rapaces” (Raptors), contains five chapters on the biology, taxonomy, cultural importance and conservation of raptors and a sixth chapter with a variety of educational activities that use birds of prey to teach concepts in language, science, art, math and even physical education. With the help of Panama’s Ministry of Education, we hope to distribute these guides to teachers and schools throughout the country. As a means to better ensure that the guides will be utilized once in teachers’ hands and that they won’t simply sit on a shelf collecting dust, we knew it would be essential to train teachers in the use of this guide.

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First Ever Release of Orange-breasted Falcons a Success!

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Orange-breasted Falcon <br />chicks in hack box
Orange-breasted Falcon
chicks in hack box
A big day for all of us involved in the Orange-breasted Falcon Project occurred on 13 May 2005. It was the day when we released, for the first time ever, two young Orange-breasted Falcons using time-proven hacking methods. Though The Peregrine Fund has been using these techniques to successfully release other falcons like the Peregrine and the Aplomado, this would be the first time ever that we would try it with this species. Despite “pre-release jitters” we were feeling optimistic. After all, the birds had been eating well, and they were alert and active while in the box; in other words, they were ready!

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Orange-breasted Falcon Project Update—April 2005

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

With 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!

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Orange-breasted Falcon Project Update—March 2005

Angel Muela — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Adult Orange-breasted Falcon at its nest.
Adult Orange-breasted Falcon at its nest.
Due to the very low success rate of nests last year in Belize, out of nine nests, only one chick was seen to fledge successfully, this year we decided to collect and hatch Orange-breasted Falcon (OBF) eggs instead of collecting chicks. Our goal is to obtain three females to complete our captive-breeding stock at the Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama. Collecting eggs early during incubation decreases the probability of natural predation and increases the chances of successfully collecting the young birds that we need. Also, by taking eggs, the likelihood that the pair would lay another clutch of eggs in the same breeding season is high, thus potentially duplicating the production of OBF eggs for that year. Our plan, then, is to keep any females that hatch and to release the males back into the forests of Belize.

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First Annual Harpy Eagle Day Celebration a Resounding Success!

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Harpy Eagle Day
Harpy Eagle Day
On 10 April 2002 the Harpy Eagle was officially and legally declared the National Bird of Panama. To celebrate the third anniversary of this important event and to spread the message about raptor conservation to more Panamanians, the Environmental Education department of The Peregrine Fund-Panama decided to host a Harpy Eagle Day Celebration, called “Festiarpia.” After months of planning and organizing, the big day finally arrived on Sunday, 10 April 2005.

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Harpy Eagle Release Program-Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, Belize

Ryan Phillips — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

In August of 2004, the Harpy Eagle Restoration Project was moved from the Las Cuevas Research Station in the Chiquibul National Forest in the southwestern part of the country to the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA) in the north. Since then, the birds have acclimated well and the restoration of the Harpy Eagle in Belize is proving to be a real success.

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Harpy Eagle Release Update

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

On October 4 of 2003 we at The Peregrine Fund - Panama received the distressing news that a Harpy Eagle had been shot and injured in a remote area of the Darien Province of Panama. She had been rescued by government authorities and was being brought to our facilities for care. Not one month later, on October 31, did we receive word of another Harpy Eagle, this one a young male, that had also been shot and injured. He, too, was brought to our facilities. And then in March, on a tidal wave of bad news, a third Harpy Eagle, also shot, was on its way to us.

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Environmental Education as One Means to Conserve the Ridgway’s Hawk in the Dominican Republic

Marta Curti — in West Indies Project

Crystal blue waters, white sand beaches and lush vegetation; these are the views we take in as we drive from the airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR), through the countryside, on our way to Los Haitises National Park, located in the northeast portion of the country. I have come from Panama to spend a week working with biologists Jesus Almonte and Pedro Rodriguez, to help implement an education program designed to promote the conservation of the endangered, endemic, Ridgway’s Hawk. My job would be to help them develop presentations, activities and a means to evaluate the progress of this program, which will take place in communities that surround Ridgway’s Hawk territory.

Marta Curti talks with community members about the Ridgway's Hawk
Marta Curti talks with community members about the Ridgway's Hawk
A medium-sized hawk with a spectacular, almost indescribable call, the Ridgway’s Hawk is threatened by habitat loss and by human persecution due, in part, to its misplaced reputation as a fierce chicken hunter. These two factors have been crippling for this species so that it is now considered critically endangered and found only in small pockets of its former habitat. Our challenge: how do you convince people to preserve this raptor when they fear it will kill their chickens, a source of food and, potentially, of income? How do you convince the general public of the importance of this bird before time runs out? In order to find some insight and, perhaps, some answers to these and other questions, we conducted some pre-evaluations in a community on the border of Los Haitises National Park. Jesus and I spent three days talking with Los Limones community members and conducting formal pre-evaluations. All in all, we spoke with around 60 members of the community, who were all happy to share their experience and insights with us.

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Harpy Releases in Belize

Phil Hannon — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

I have just recently finished my stay as a Harpy Eagle Hack Site volunteer in Belize. I arrived at the Las Cuevas Research Station in the Chiquibul Forest in May of this year and the time since has been the most amazing, gratifying experience I could have imagined. I was part of a team responsible for the hacking and care of four juvenile Harpy Eagles, two males and two females.

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First Independent Harpy Eagle Released in Bocas del Toro, Panamá

Kathia Herrera — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

On 1 June 2004, members of the Bonyic and Solon communities in Bocas del Toro, representatives from ANAM (the environmental authority), and members of the media joined The Peregrine Fund-Panama (TPFP) for the release of a three-year-old Harpy Eagle, named “2001.” 2001 was hatched and raised in captivity at TPFP’s Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama. She was released as a young bird into Soberania National Park. There, biologists monitored her regularly and provided her with food, until they were sure that she was able to successfully hunt on her own. Since she reached complete independence of our care, it was time to re-release her into a more remote forest within Panama.

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Mission: Harpy Eagle—Students of Colegio Brader Teaching Conservation

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Colegio Brader students visit the Neotropical Raptor Center
Colegio Brader students visit the Neotropical Raptor Center
Herbert Spencer said that “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” This certainly is true in the case of conservation education, where we work daily to inspire children and adults to make a conscious effort to better our planet. Working to educate the general public about raptors, and Harpy Eagles in particular, can be a challenge as these birds are often feared and misunderstood. Despite this, we have been very lucky. Over the past two years, we have visited many classrooms and communities and have been inspired and overjoyed at the enthusiasm and interest most everyone has shown for the Harpy Eagle and its conservation.

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Orange Breasted Falcon Update

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

Angel Muela observing<br />Orange-breasted Falcon male
Angel Muela observing
Orange-breasted Falcon male
Just off one of the many back roads in Belize, high up on a limestone cliff, lives a pair of Orange-breasted Falcons. We have observed them for two years now and they always provide us with an amazing show—streaking through the air at top speed after songbirds, stooping White Hawks and Black Vultures, or perching on a branch as the evening light illuminates the beautiful, colorful feather pattern of this rare species.

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Harpy Eagle Releases in Panama

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Things have been pretty active at the Harpy Eagle release site in Panama these past few weeks. We now have 15 free-flying eagles, several of which began to disperse long distances from the release site all at the same time! Though this is good news for the project and for the birds – as it means they are becoming more independent and are beginning to hunt a bit on their own, it means a lot of hard work for the volunteers and staff who have to keep up with them.

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Harpy Eagle Releases in Panama

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

It’s that time of year again on the Harpy Eagle project! Two more eaglets are once again ready to be released into Soberania National Park in Panama. I arrived at the hack site on a Wednesday ready for a mellow week of releases and all-day vigils at the blind. Instead, I experienced a week of day-long hiking in search of birds, some sadness and one or two surprises.

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Children's Drawing Contest a Success!

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

We recently hosted a national children’s drawing contest throughout Panama. The theme was “The Harpy Eagle: National Bird of Panama and Symbol of Conservation.” Every student in Panama from grades K through 6th was eligible to participate. We received more than 25 entries from all over the country including Chiriquí, Coclé, Colón, Darién, Los Santos, Panama, and San Miguelito. The drawings were as varied as the children who submitted them. And if there ever was truth to the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” it was evident in the beautiful pictures we received. Filled with bright colors, creativity, imagination, and a wide range of themes depicted; from a Harpy Eagle shedding tears at the loss of its forest home, to children teaching others about the importance of this magnificent species, these pictures spoke volumes about the status of Harpy Eagles and conservation in general, as seen through the eyes of a child.

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Program begins in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Marta Curti — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Loa Tzu said that a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. These words rang true, both literally and figuratively, for me and my co-worker Kathia Herrera, as we began our five-hour hike through the dense Neotropical forests of the Rio Teribe (Teribe River) area in Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. We were headed to a small community called Buena Selva, located at the top of a high mountain. This would be the first of four communities we would visit during the week. The others included Seiyic, Bonyic, and Solon. We were making this trip in order to begin an environmental education program in the area. Bocas del Toro Province, specifically the forests that surround the Rio Teribe, will be the site for releasing our captive-bred Harpy Eagles once they become independent of our care and are hunting on their own and no longer need to be monitored on a daily basis. Before these releases can occur, however, we need to ensure the support and acceptance of the people living in the area, thus, the purpose of our visit.

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Harpy Eagle Releases in Belize

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

At the end of October, I flew to Las Cuevas Research Station, in Belize to check on the status of the four Harpy Eagles we had released there in April and June of this year, respectively. I was excited to see the birds again. It had been more than four months since I had last set eyes on these particular Harpies. I was also going to meet two new volunteers for the first time and help them set up individual feeding trees for the eagles.

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Visit to Frijolito School

Kathia Herrera — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Some of the most gratifying moments that I have experienced since I began working with The Peregrine Fund’s Environmental Education Program in Panama have been when I have witnessed the looks on children’s faces that are filled with curiosity and enthusiasm. A short while ago, the children of the Frijolito School helped me to remember this. We returned to this school after not having worked there for about half a year. It was a surprise for them since the school is located very far and the notices we sent out announcing our visit arrived late. However, we were still very well received, as always.

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Harpy Eagle Releases in Panama

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

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.

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Release of Harpy Eagles in Belize

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

In June, two other Harpy Eagles joined the first set of birds that had been released in Belize in April. The four eagles continue to develop perfectly, and the older male (Black DX) has been the most adventurous of the bunch as he continues to explore the surrounding forest and ventures the farthest. All four eagles continue to return to the hack site regularly to feed. We believe it will still be a few more months before we see the first hunting attempts made by one of these birds, but, the volunteers in charge of caring for the birds have nothing but positive things to report.

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Orange-breasted Falcon-June 2003

Marta Curti — in Orange-breasted Falcon Project

One of the lesser studied falcons in the world, the Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus) is arguably one of the most beautiful. It is similar in coloration to the Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis), but has a shock of orange on its breast that the Bat Falcon lacks. It is also much larger and has proportionately bigger feet than its more commonly seen cousin. Orange-breasted Falcons (OBF) are swift fliers and feed on birds and bats which they catch on the wing. They regularly nest on cliff ledges, but have also been found nesting in epiphytes growing in emergent trees. OBFs usually lay between one and three eggs and chicks remain in the nest for about five to six weeks before fledging.

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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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March-April 2003

Marta Curti — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

As we sat huddled in the observation blind, quietly battling the mosquitoes and black flies, the first strokes of light set the forest ablaze with green, as the sun's rays began to peak from between the large Chicle trees that composed most of our view. In the distance, we heard howler monkeys greet the day with their typical guttural wails that echoed across the forest and sounded like a chorus of 20, when in reality only two or three were calling. The scent of rain lingered in the air. Amidst the hustle and bustle of a typical morning in the Belizean wilderness, something very atypical was about to happen. The forest was getting some new residents—two captive-bred Harpy Eagles being released into this Central American country for the first time ever. As we waited anxiously for the Harpy Eagles to emerge from the hack box, their home for the past three weeks, and venture out into the wild for the first time, I couldn't help but think of the long process that brought these birds here in the first place.

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March 2003

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

March has been a month with some ups and downs. On March 6, two young Harpy Eagles were released in Soberania National Park. Unfortunately, lack of experience caused MC to be killed by a Jaguar the day after she was released. Even though some natural predation is to be expected (in the wild, a high percentage of animals die within their first year due to predation), our goal is to minimize those events as much as possible.

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Volunteer Experience in Darien

Philippe Potvin-Simon — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

During my summer vacation I had the chance and privilege of working with the “Fondo Peregrino-Panama” in their Harpy Eagle Research and Conservation Program in Darien, which is Panama’s southernmost and jungle covered province.

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February 2003

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Moving the Harpy Eagle breeding pairs from our headquarters in Boise to our Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama had an incredible and positive impact on the reproductive behavior of the birds. Their new breeding chambers, located in the middle of the forest, combined with a rich and diverse diet and careful management of the clutches of eggs, allowed us to hatch 17 eaglets, a number that exceeded our wildest expectations. What a successful year!

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February - April 2002

Angel Muela — in Neotropical Raptor Conservation Program

Harpy Eagle Chick
Harpy Eagle Chick
Just a few months after the Harpy Eagle breeding pairs were moved from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise to our Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama, we have achieved and exceeded with great enthusiasm the results we expected. At the end of January, two Harpy Eagle chicks, produced by Venezuelan female “GN,” and captive-bred male “Zih,” hatched without any problems. These chicks, a male and a female, are growing very well and are presently in a chamber right next to, and in full view of, an adult Harpy Eagle so that the youngsters can relate themselves naturally to their species.

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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 through March 2002

Kathia Herrera, Ursula Valdez — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

Who said that a survey is boring? A bed in a rustic house, the floor of a pre-school classroom, or a cot at a health center, all of these have been places where we spent the nights while working at rural communities of the Panama Canal area. These communities comprise the small villages and towns adjacent to former or potential release sites for Harpy Eagles. We visited them during the last four months to obtain information on the level of knowledge that people have on Harpy Eagles, the reasons why these eagles are shot around human settlements.

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Harpy Eagle Breeding at the Neotropical Raptor Center (February-April 2002)

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Just a few months after the Harpy Eagle breeding pairs were moved from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise to our Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama, we have achieved and exceeded with great enthusiasm the results we expected. At the end of January, two Harpy Eagle chicks, produced by Venezuelan female “GN,” and captive-bred male “Zih,” hatched without any problems. These chicks, a male and a female, are growing very well and are presently in a chamber right next to, and in full view of, an adult Harpy Eagle so that the youngsters can relate themselves naturally to their species.

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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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Harpy Eagle Breeding at the Neotropical Raptor Center (October 2001)

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

October has been an important month for our project in Panama . We finally moved our Harpy Eagle breeding stock from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise to our Neotropical Raptor Center at the City of Knowledge just outside of Panama City. Most people of Panama consider the Harpy Eagle to be their National Bird, and the news of the Harpy Eagles’ arrival in Panama was received with enthusiasm and community support. A total of six eagles were transported to the Center where we now have a total of 11 Harpy Eagles.

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October 2001

Angel Muela — in Neotropical Raptor Conservation Program

October has been an important month for our project in Panama . We finally moved our Harpy Eagle breeding stock from the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise to our Neotropical Raptor Center at the City of Knowledge just outside of Panama City. Most people of Panama consider the Harpy Eagle to be their National Bird, and the news of the Harpy Eagles’ arrival in Panama was received with enthusiasm and community support. A total of six eagles were transported to the Center where we now have a total of 11 Harpy Eagles.

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August 2001

Janeene Touchton — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

MV, a young female Harpy Eagle, gets her name from letters engraved in a metallic blue band on her left leg. She hatched January 16, 1998 at the Zoological Society of San Diego and was reared there until April 1998 when she was transferred to the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. At the World Center she was puppet-reared and also spent time with an adult female Harpy Eagle. In August 1998, MV was transferred to an enclosure in Panama’s Soberania National Forest for hack and release. Within a year she had captured her first Three-toed Sloth despite her lack of parental guidance. After dispersing far from her hack site, MV was relocated to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Barro Colorado Island (BCI) in October 1999 following the relocation of James, another young captive-bred Harpy Eagle. BCI was the ideal location for the eagles’ release because it is a research sanctuary highly protected by game wardens and ecological police. Additionally, long-term research supported by the Smithsonian’s well-established facilities on the island provides readily available data such as population numbers of other species present.

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Harpy Eagle Breeding at the Neotropical Raptor Center (July 2001)

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

Within the last year we have secured an excellent arrangement with various Panamanian governmental organizations, most notably the National Environment Authority, City of Knowledge, and the Panama Canal Authority. Through their strong support we now have offices and housing, as well as a large bit of rainforest adjacent to a national park. And this, minutes from Panama City! The Neotropical Raptor Center (NRC), which is The Peregrine Fund’s facility for the region, is home to our Harpy Eagle and Orange-breasted Falcon (OBF) Projects, and it will diversify as needs arise. 

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July 2001-Neotropical Raptor Center

Angel Muela — in Neotropical Raptor Conservation Program

Within the last year we have secured an excellent arrangement with various Panamanian governmental organizations, most notably the National Environment Authority, City of Knowledge, and the Panama Canal Authority. Through their strong support we now have offices and housing, as well as a large bit of rainforest adjacent to a national park. And this, minutes from Panama City! The Neotropical Raptor Center (NRC), which is The Peregrine Fund’s facility for the region, is home to our Harpy Eagle and Orange-breasted Falcon (OBF) Projects, and it will diversify as needs arise.

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“SWEET BABY JAMES”

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

In August 2000, one of our Harpy Eagles, James, was shot and killed by a poacher just outside of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, an island within the Pamana Canal. James (named thus because one of his transmitter frequencies ended in 007—"James Bond") was released on Barro Colorado Island (BCI) a year before and had yielded vast amounts of information on Harpy Eagle biology. James hatched in September 1997 and was released in nearby Soberania National Park in March 1998. A few months later, we trapped him in Soberania National Park, as he was roaming areas known to have poacher activity. James was then used as an educational bird and visited many schools and communities.

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Isidor's Eagles: Owners of the Cloud Forest

Ursula Valdez — in Neotropical Environmental Education Program

It was about 11 years ago when I saw an Isidor's Eagle (Oroaetus isidori), also called Black-and-Chestnut Eagle, for the first time. I was crossing the cloud forest on my way to Amazonian lowlands in Peru. From a comfortable tourist truck that was giving me a ride, I could see a fantastic scene. A few meters from the road there was a mossy tree emerging from the steep slope and on the top of it there was a nest with an Isidor's Eagle and a nestling. I remember jumping from the truck and staying while the tourists were heading to a lodge not far down the road. I stayed there for three hours just watching the eagles, and I was fascinated with the experience. By that time I was a newly graduated biologist looking for a direction for my career and my interest in birds, and especially raptors, was starting to grow. Sadly, years later I found out that the eagles were not nesting there anymore, a man had cut down the tree and since then there was not evidence of a nesting activity around. During the next years, however, I had the chance to pass by that road several times and some of those I still was lucky to see an Isidor's Eagle flying along or across the valley.

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May 1999 - October 1999

Alberto Palleroni — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

This is a PDF archive:May 1999 - October 1999

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August 1998 - December 1998

Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

This is a PDF archive:August 1998 - December 1998

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December 1997 - July 1998

Alan Brown, Tracy Brown — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research

This is a PDF archive:December 1997 - July 1998

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