Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR

by Fundacion Grupo Puntacana
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR
Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR

Project Report | Oct 25, 2017
2017 Ridgway's Hawk Nesting Season

By Thomas Hayes - Ridgway's Hawk Project Director | Thomas Hayes

The 2017 Ridgway’s Hawk nesting season once again showed us that all our effort and hard work is paying off. Ridgway’s Hawks in Punta Cana are doing well and we observed an all-time high of 17 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks during the season. Of these 17 pairs of hawks, 9 pairs nested and produced 10 fledglings, another record for the Punta Cana population. We also continued our release efforts at the Puntacana Resort and Club and released 25 additional hawks into the area. Releases went very well, however we did observe a lot more interaction between older hawks and newly released birds. This is likely due to the fact that the current release area now has adult hawks that consider the release site as part of their territory. While this has happened to some degree since the 2015 season, this year’s interactions were different in that the older birds were more aggressive with the younger released birds. This is actually another sign of success for the project, but it also means that we will likely need to relocate the release site before future releases can be conducted. During the 2018 season we plan to put a hold on releases in the Punta Cana area and focus our attention to monitoring the existing population there.

All the work that we do in Punta Cana is only possible, because of our intense monitoring and management of the stronghold population of Ridgway’s Hawks in Los Haitises National Park (LHNP). In 2017, our team of 16 local field technicians and 6 local volunteers observed 125 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in LHNP. Just over 90 of these pairs received hands on management to help reduce mortality in nestlings which is caused by a parasitic nest fly (Philornis spp.). This hands-on management ensures that more nestlings survive to fledging age. Our data shows that we have increased the numbers of nestlings which make it to fledging age by 3-4 times for each of the last 3 years. This means that for every 10 pairs of hawks we manage, we are ensuring that 8-10 additional nestlings reach fledging age. By doing this intense management we are able to ensure that the wild population in LHNP continues to grow and at the same time, we can remove some nestling from that population in order to release them in Punta Cana or in other areas in the Dominican Republic.

Many of you may be wondering how the hawks faired with the recent hurricanes that past the Dominican Republic. Irma and Maria both came very close to both populations of Ridgway’s Hawks. Irma fortunately moved north and had very little effect in Punta Cana. The geography of LHNP helped to protect the area from high winds and rain. Maria passed much closer to Punta Cana and the area did receive winds from a category 1 hurricane. These winds did have enough force to knock down trees and cause some minor damage. Since the storms we have monitored the known pairs in Punta Cana and to our delight, all of them are still on territory.

In September we completed two 3-day Youth Training Workshops for a total of 35 young leaders working in communities next to important Ridgway's Hawk habitat. These workshops are designed to provide young people with the tools necessary to be able to talk about sensitive conservation issues one-on-one within their communities, and to teach them how to utilize materials on hand to create fun and dynamic learning experiences for their target audiences, as well as how to give environmental education programs such as presentations, guided walks, and other activities. 

Our goal was also to instill a passion for wildlife, wild places and conservation at the same time. Apart from the dynamic, hands-on activities - including creating artistic sculptures of Ridgway’s Hawks out of recyclable materials, and putting on a play – complete with actors, costumes and scenery – workshop participants also went on bird watching excursions and enjoyed guided nature walks, all the while learning about Ridgway’s Hawk biology, bird observation, food chains, birds of prey, and conservation issues and actions. Our pre and post evaluations showed a marked increase in participants’ knowledge about raptors, ecological processes, and conservation issues as a whole. We have also received word from some individuals who are already putting what they learned into action. Some have hosted a trash cleanup activity in their community and others are working on creating signs and getting trash bins donated, to prevent future littering in their communities. All in all, this was a very positive experience for all involved and we hope to host at least one more of these workshops next year!

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Organization Information

Fundacion Grupo Puntacana

Location: Santo Domingo, no applicable - Dominican Republic
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FundacionGPC
Project Leader:
Jacob Kheel
Vice President
Santo Domingo , N/A Dominican Republic
$131,750 raised of $200,000 goal
 
177 donations
$68,250 to go
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