Our 2023 nesting season is in full swing, our first Ridgway’s Hawk nestlings of the season have hatched and with them, the hope of recovering a species from the brink of extinction. Our field crews are monitoring known territories, visiting active nests, and searching for new pairs that may have settled inside the forest.
The community of Los Brazos in Aniana Vargas National Park, represents our most recent attempt to establish another population of Ridgway’s Hawks outside of Los Haitises National Park. Last season we had the first successful hatchlings since the beginning of the releases in this location, and this year we have already found new pairs making a total of 5 territories, which is incredibly exciting. This marks the path forward and provides the opportunity for this population to grow. Along with assisted dispersal, we hope the population at this new site will become self-sufficient.
Los Haitises National Park has given us the first nestlings of the season. We were able to observe two small and healthy young hawks on the 1st of March. Our team celebrates this birth and hopes that the community around the park will welcome these new members with joy. But things don't stop there, we are also receiving university students interested in knowing the extent of the project, how it is developed, their participation in community development and the human side of it. Part of the work of the field teams involves walking for hours through the forest, entering the depths of the park, under very changeable weather conditions, which is why seeing the first nestlings born in the season serves as extra motivation.
Punta Cana continues to show that our efforts to preserve this species are paying big dividends. We have found 2 new pairs, making a total of 32 territories. This year promises to be another successful nesting season, adding many more juvenile hawks to the area!
Our team is making daily patrols to ensure that the nesting process continues unhinged. Our Ambassador Hawks continue to make some visits to schools, giving students the opportunity to interact directly with them, learn about their characteristics, their behavior and above all, their importance in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This year we have exciting things in store for environmental education. May is almost upon us to celebrate Ridgway's Hawk month and as usual we are organizing the second Ridgway's Hawk festival in conjunction with our project partners and other organizations who contribute to the conservation of different species in the Dominican Republic. In addition, we will also start with the surveys for our national campaign with the hopes that every Dominican can know, identify and protect the Ridgway's Hawk as part of their cultural and environmental heritage.
We will continue to work to recover the population of this amazing bird and we are grateful that you are with us along the way!
November Report 2022
A stormy ending of the 2022 nesting season
The 2022 season is over, but this does not mean that the work is finished. In the few months left of the year, we are busy organizing everything we need for next season. This year, the Ridgway’s Hawk Team monitored a total of 169 pairs of hawks and helped 139 new young hawks take to the skies. This is very exciting news and definitely gives us a lot of hope for 2023.
By the end of the 2022 nesting season, our staff in Punta Cana had monitored a total of 26 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks, with 21 of them attempting to nest, 26 young hawks that fledged this season.Once again, this sets a new productivity record for the project! The last two nestlings were banded in front of the Puntacana Foundation with the presence of the Grupo Puntacana Foundation’s President, Mr. Frank Rainieri.
Though there was a lot to celebrate this year, there were also many challenges. Sadly, Punta Cana was struck by hurricane Fiona at the end of the season, taking a toll on the vegetation that serves as home for the Ridgway’s Hawk. We lost a considerable number of palm trees which provide nesting sites for these hawks. Only time will tell how the biodiversity, including prey for the hawks, has been affected. Despite of all of this, we know the Ridgway’s Hawk is a resilient species, and we are hopeful the hawks will have another successful nesting season in Punta Cana next year.
We also keep improving our Ambassador Hawk project which is proving to be a great success. Our goal is for more visitors to be able to interact and share experiences with birds of prey up close. How cool is that? At the same time we hope this aspect of our project will make it easier to raise awareness about the amazing work that we are doing with our partners. In addition, we are creating the space and capacity to do small scale raptor rehabilitation at the Grupo Puntacana Foundation.
This year's release site was a total success!. Twenty five new young have now dispersed into Aniana Vargas National Park. We are excited to watch as this new cohort begins to find their own habitat, nesting partners, and eventually have young of their own.
After several months of monitoring the release site, it was clear that the young hawkshad become independent. They were no longer returning to the hack box to eat. This meant that they were successfully finding their own food! Thus,we considered our third release in Aniana Vargas National Park a success. We’re also glad to report that the first successful nesting pair at this site has fledged two beautiful nestlings. It's a great starting point for the coming seasons and makes us extremely excited about the relationship between these 25 new hawks and the people who live around this national park.
Los Haitises National Park
Our teams keep growing each season. This year we had two new volunteers from Los Limones community working for the project. They got to learn new skills and be part of the conservation in their areas.
Our crews have had a really successful season, even though they faced many challenges in the field. The weather played a crucial role in the productivity of the hawks and made the hikes to the nests even more difficult. Frequent rains negatively affect the hawks and sometimes young nestlings even drown. To reach remote areas in the park, knowing the risk the rainy season represents, our crew helped with disaster mitigation and prevention throughout the communities, as well as environmental education activities. Despite these challenges, they still monitored 111 new fledglings this season!
On the education side, exciting things are on the way. This month we visited St Michael’s School in the national district as part of our education program. Seeing the excitement in the children's faces when they interacted with our ambassador hawks is priceless. We hope we can visit these schools frequently and include many others.
In other really good news, we visited the National Zoo to shoot some videos for our new collaborator, Bolitos & Candin Enterprise, as part of their new Endemics Collection where the Ridgway’s Hawk plays a critical role. This company specialized in the production of organic chocolate and coffee. This partnership could expand our education efforts to new areas in the northeast of the country as well as increase the awareness of the conservation status of our endemic species.
Through this season we have been rehabilitatingand taking care of several raptor species where most of them have been released back into the wild.
It’s been a long season but the next one is right around the corner and we are all busy getting ready for it. Thank you all for your support!
Awesome news from Punta Cana: July is almost over and the Ridgway’s Hawk nesting season is nearing the end. After a few very busy months, we´re beyond delighted with the results. In Punta Cana alone we have a total of 28 pairs of hawks - including a couple of brand-new pairs we found this year and a few solo males in the area. These pairs at Punta Cana have fledged 26 young so far this year making it another record breaking season. This makes us incredibly happy and motivated to continue the trend!
Earlier this month we had the opportunity to be part of the American Ornithological Society and BirdsCaribbean 2022 Conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Over 750 attendees were able to listen to presentations and learn about bird conservation projects all around the world including - the Ridgway’s Hawk Project. Many attendees also were able to take part in a workshop that we conducted to teach about the importance of birds of prey and the role they play in nature.
In DR we conducted some visits to communities near the sites that we had not been able to visit because of Covid, as well as visiting new communities. In the Punta Cana area alone, we visited over 30 different communities and reached over 500 individuals.
On May 25th, we celebrated Ridgway’s Hawk Day in the Dominican Republic. We held a festival ZOODOM (National Zoological Park) where students and visitors got the opportunity to play games, do art activities, receive talks, and get to interact with our ambassador hawks. Around 1,200 students from different schools all around Santo Domingo participated in this celebration. It was awesome! So far this year we have reached over 3,250 people through our education program. Additional activities were conducted in Punta Cana and the surrounding area, including our ambassador hawks visiting Juanillo’s elementary school. Our focus now that the nesting season is over is to keep reaching more and more communities and keep spreading the knowledge about this incredible bird species.
Another exciting bit of news is that our Raptors of the Caribbean Guide are coming along pretty well, we already printed the first draft in English! Our goal is to have this guide translated to Spanish, Hatian Creole, and other languages spoken on the Caribbean islands by the end of this year.
We also had the amazing opportunity to meet with Mr. Abdulla Shahid, UN President of the General Assembly. We had a brief talk with him about our conservation efforts with our partners from the Grupo Puntacana Foundation.
The Ridgway’s Hawk population in Los Haitises National Park is also doing very well. Our local teams continue to work hard to find nesting pairs, treat nests and young for nest fly parasite infestations, and also educate locals about the importance of the hawks. Because of their amazing efforts, we expect nest productivity rates to be the same or even better than last year. We will have a better idea of final numbers at the end of the breeding season.
We also have some exciting news about our newest Ridgway’s Hawk population in Aniana Vargas National Park. We’re happy to announce the first wild young have fledged near the small town of Caballero. This gives us hope and excitement about the future of this population and the effort the team puts in daily to preserve the species. We have been receiving visitors from Santo Domingo and showing them the daily routine at the hack site where 25 new hawks have recently been released. We hope they can make it and become successful adults like the pair that fledged the first young this season.
We are thankful for all your support!
After a long period of uncertainty and limitations due to COVID-19, our 2022 Ridgway’s Hawk nesting season is in full swing. It’s March 7th and many pairs of hawks have already started to incubate!
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, last nesting season in Puntacana was our most successful to date with a total of 25 new wild fledged hawks into the population in the eastern part of the island. So far, the 2022 nesting season is shaping up to once again be a great year with 16 of our 21 pairs already incubating. We are hopeful the remaining pairs will also lay eggs during the next month. In other exciting news, we have observed unbanded Ridgway’s Hawks in Punta Cana. During the 2020 nesting season, several nestlings were left unbanded due to us not having access to their nest location. During the last months we have received reports of unbanded birds in this area and during the past week, we observed an unbanded adult Ridgway’s Hawk during our routine nest monitoring activities. We have anticipated that this day would come and while these unbanded birds may be from the nest we left unbanded in 2020 they could have also come from other Ridgway’s Hawk nests we were unaware of. Essentially, the population of hawks in Puntacana is now too large for us to monitor every bird.
In Aniana Vargas, our newest release site, we have documented 3 new nesting pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks. In total, five pairs of hawks have formed in this new population. During the 2022 nesting season our goal is to release 25 new nestlings. Our team is monitoring this new population closely and also continuing with environmental education efforts in the surrounding area. The rapid progress we are seeing in Aniana Vargas gives us hope that this newly established population will be as successful as the thriving population in Punta Cana.
The success of the Ridgway’s Hawk project begins in Los Haitises National Park. Through our hard work and dedication, we have managed to grow this population by an astounding 100%. At the same time we have been selecting some nestlings from this population each year to translocate to our release sites. Here, the hard work has also begun and our teams are busier than ever monitoring and managing this critical population of Ridgway’s Hawk. We have 4 teams working in three key areas of the park where most of the pairs are currently either incubating or building their nests.
Environmental education is a key component to the long term sustainability of the Ridgway’s Hawk Project. We continue visiting the communities around our hawk populations. In some areas, locals have even helped us to find hawk nests. In late February, we had a workshop with elementary school teachers from areas surrounding Ridgway’s Hawk habitat. Finally, our avian ambassadors will soon join the environmental education program and we are excited to share more details as soon as possible.
After a busy nesting season, we are taking advantage of the fact that the Ridgway’s Hawks are not as active, to prepare for next season. In Punta Cana, we are making occasional observations of the pairs as we look forward to the beginning of the next nesting season, which promises to be successful. This year 25 young fledged from the 18 actively nesting pairs, making this season the best breeding season so far in Puntacana.
Some exciting news is that we’re planning on having two ambassador birds in Puntacana as well. These individuals were rescued from the field in terrible condition and rehabilitated back into health. Unfortunately, they can’t be released back into the wild and that’s why they’ll be part of our amazing educational work.
In Aniana Vargas, the newest release site, 23 of the 24 young released have fledged successfully. We have been monitoring them daily to make sure they’re adjusting to their new habitat. Other amazing things that have been happening in the community is that our local team is continuing the education work near this release site as well as building more chicken coops to distribute to locals.
In Los Haitises National Park we monitored 148 pairs of hawks, which fledged 126 young this season. This is a major success, especially when compared to 2011, when we monitored only 37 pairs and only 18 young fledged. We are proud that we have achieved this huge success in the growth of this population. All achieved by the hard work of a group of people that believe in this species’ recovery.
This month we participated in the Raptor Research Foundation and Neotropical Raptor Network Conference. We presented a talk on our project’s holistic approach to conservation and how the locals play a major role in the success and sustainability of the project. It was an amazing experience to be able to share what we do with people from all around the world.
As the world is going back to normal slowly we expect to begin again with the door to door visits and the teacher training workshops.
Exciting things await us in the next few months!
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