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.
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