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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.

•  Complete Orange-breasted Falcon data on GRIN

Found 26 entries matching your request:

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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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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Find more articles about Aplomado Falcon, California Condor, Harpy Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Neotropics


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 (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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Find more articles about Harpy Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon, Neotropics


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