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THE PEREGRINE FUND

working
to conserve
birds of prey
in nature

fall /winter 2004


newsletter number 35
Board of Directors of
The Peregrine Fund
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Paxson H. Offield Tom J. Cade, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Founding Chairman
Board and Director and Director
Chairman of the Professor Emeritus
Board and CEO, of Ornithology,
Santa Catalina Cornell University
Island Company
Ian Newton, Roy E. Disney
D.Phil., D.Sc., FRS. Chairman of the
Vice Chairman of the Board, Emeritus,
Board and Director and Director
Senior Chairman of the
Ornithologist (Ret.) Board, Shamrock
Natural Environment Holdings, Inc.
Research Council
United Kingdom
Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
William A. Chairman of the
Burnham, Ph.D. Board, Emeritus
President and Director Chairman and
Chief Executive
J. Peter Jenny
Officer, The
Vice President
Goldman Sachs
Karen J. Hixon Group, Inc.
Treasurer and Director
Conservationist
Julie A. Wrigley
D. James Nelson Chairman of
Secretary and Director the Board, Emeritus,
Chairman of the and Director
Board, Emeritus Chairman and
President, Nelson CEO, Wrigley
Construction Company Investments LLC

DIRECTORS
Lee M. Bass Robert Wood
President, Lee M. Bass, Johnson IV
Inc. Chairman and CEO,
The Johnson Company,
Robert B. Berry Inc., and New York Jets
Trustee, Wolf Creek LLC
Charitable Foundation,
Rancher, Falcon Breeder, Jacobo Lacs
and Conservationist International
Businessman and
Harry L. Bettis Conservationist
Rancher
Patricia B. Manigault
P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D. Conservationist and
Professor, University of Rancher
Washington
Carter R. Montgomery
Frank M. Bond President and CEO,
Attorney at Law and Longhorn Partners
Rancher Pipeline
Robert S. Comstock Velma V. Morrison
President and CEO, President, Harry W.
Robert Comstock Morrison Foundation
Company
Ruth O. Mutch
Derek J. Craighead Investor
Ecologist
Carl E. Navarre
Scott A. Crozier Book Publisher and
Senior Vice President, CEO, MyPublisher, Inc.
General Counsel, Morlan W. Nelson
and Secretary Naturalist, Hydrologist,
PETsMART, INC and Cinematographer
T. Halter Cunningham Peter G. Pfendler
Business Rancher
Executive/Investor
Lucia Liu
Patricia A. Disney Severinghaus, Ph.D.
Vice Chairman, Research Fellow
Shamrock Holdings, Institute of Zoology,
Inc. Academia Sinica
James H. Enderson, Taiwan
Ph.D. R. Beauregard Turner
Professor Emeritus Fish and Wildlife
of Biology Manager
The Colorado College Turner Enterprises
Caroline A. Forgason James D. Weaver
Partner, Groves- President, Grasslans
Alexander Group LLC Charitable Foundation,
and Rancher
Z. Wayne Griffin, Jr.
Developer, G&N P.A.B. Widener, Jr.
Management, Inc. Rancher and Investor
The Peregrine Fund Staff
UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL
Linda Behrman
Roger Benefield
Roy Britton
Panama
Eloy Aripio
T H E PE R E G R I N E F U N D
Adrian Benedetti
Joell Brown Dadildo Carpio N E W S L E T T E R N O . 3 5 • F A L L / W I N T E R 2 0 0 4
Bill Burnham Octavio Cruz
Kurt K. Burnham Marta Curti
Pat Burnham Bilomar Doviaza
Jack Cafferty Omar Fernández
Craig Carpenter Próspero Gaitán
Emma Christensen Margarita Gordon
Donna Daniels Noel Guerra Aplomado Falcons West Texas releases continue to show promise . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Glen DeSpain Yanina Guevara
Cameron Ellis Kathia Herrera
Beau Fairchild Edwin Pastor Jiménez
Edward Feltes
Vincent Frary
Magaly Linares California Condor Two more wild chicks hatch; more expected next spring . . . . . . 4
José de Los Santos
Erin Gott López
Sherri Haley Pedro Mendez
Bill Heinrich
Grainger Hunt
Gabriel Menguizama Arctic Program
Rodolfo Mosquera
J. Peter Jenny Angel Muela Long-term research yields unique information . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Paul Juergens Rogelio Peña
Lloyd Kiff Bolívar Rodríguez
Thomas Lord Saskia Santamaría
Michael Maglione
Angel Montoya
José de Jesús Vargas Philippine Eagle
Amel Mustic Asia
Brian Mutch Muhammad Asim Captive-bred “countryman” is first ever released . . . . . . . . . . 8
Frank Nebenburg Pan Africa
Munir Virani

Trish Nixon Ron Hartley


Chris Parish Simon Thomsett
Ann Peden Munir Virani Ridgway’s Hawk
Dalibor Pongs
Travis Rosenberry Madagascar Habitat conservation is critical to survival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Cal Sandfort Aristide Andrianarimisa
Amy Siedenstrang Adrien Batou
Brook Sims Berthin Be
Randy Stevens Noel Augustin Masai Mara Raptor Project
Russell Thorstrom Bonhomme
Randy Townsend Eloi (Lala) Fanameha Annual migration provides a feast for dwindling raptor populations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Rick Watson Joseph Kakailahy
Eric Weis Loukman Kalavaha
David Whitacre Eugéne Ladoany
Jonna Wiedmaier Jules Mampiandra
Môise
Ayres’ Hawk Eagle Rare eagles are bird-catching specialists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Jim Willmarth
Sandie Wright Charles (Vola)
Rabearivelo
Jeanneney Rabearivony
Archivist
Berthine Rafarasoa Vulture Crisis
S. Kent Carnie
Norbert (Velo) “Vulture restaurants” offer
Rajaonarivelo
Jeannette Rajesy alternative to contaminated food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Yves Rakotonirina
Gaston Raoelison
Bien Aime Rasolonirina
Christophe Harpy Eagle
Razafimahatratra
Gilbert Razafimanjato Release program still
Joseph Razafindrasolo
Lova Jacquot exploring unanswered questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Razanakoto
Lily-Arison René de
Roland
Gilbert Tohaky Mission: Harpy Eagle
Student crusaders inspired by visit
to Neotropical Raptor Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Education Program
We celebrate 20 years with
two outstanding volunteers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

The Archives of Falconry


A pair of California Condors soar near
Name change reflects international scope . . . . . 20
the Grand Canyon.
Inset: A raptor perched at sunset
overlooks the Mara plains of Africa.

The Peregrine Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Printed on paper containing recycled fiber.
© 2004. Edited by Bill Burnham and Pat Burnham. Photo Editor Jack Cafferty. Design ©2004 by Amy Siedenstrang.
Chris Parish

Business Office (208)362-3716 • Fax (208)362-2376 • Interpretive Center (208)362-8687


tpf@peregrinefund.org • http://www.peregrinefund.org
Restoring Aplomado Falcons to Texas

I
n the early 1900s, Aplomado Falcons
nested on the plains of southern Coastal
Grainger Hunt Texas and in the desert grasslands of west-
ern Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern Ari-
zona. These falcons were doubtless part of a larger
Abundant rainfall in population extending through the open savannas of
Mexico and southward. Knowledge of the early distri-
spring and summer has bution and abundance of Aplomado Falcons is based
on the notebooks and specimens collected by the pio-
brought a bloom to the neer naturalists, so the picture remains sketchy. The his-
torical reports described the species as “frequently
West Texas landscape encountered” and “not uncommon,” and we can fill in
some of the blanks from habitat descriptions.
rarely seen since the By all accounts, Aplomado Falcons had ceased
breeding altogether in the United States by the late
drought began over a 1950s. Rare sightings suggested that other populations
existed in nearby Mexico, and in the 1970s, Texas biol-
decade ago. ogist Dean Hector, then of the Chihuahuan Desert
Research Institute, traveled to the Gulf of Mexico where
he found Aplomado Falcons breeding in fair numbers.
More recently, Angel Montoya of The Peregrine Fund

2
Cal Sandfort
Adult Aplomado Falcon.

Below: Angel Montoya holds an Aplomado Falcon while Cal Sandfort


places a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum band on its leg.

© Christie Van Cleve

and his coworkers discovered a population of Aplo- early to tell the direction the project will take. Abun-
mado Falcons in Chihuahua, Mexico, within less than a dant rainfall in spring and summer has brought a
hundred miles of the West Texas border. bloom to the West Texas landscape rarely seen since the
Striking habitat similarities were found between this drought began over a decade ago. The rain will translate
study area in Mexico and grasslands near Valentine, to abundant food for the falcons in the form of small-
Texas, and a study was begun on the possibility of rein- to medium-sized birds, and we hold our breath that the
troduction. Accordingly, in 2002, The Peregrine Fund beginnings of a nesting population will show itself in
began releasing captive-bred Aplomado Falcons at the spring 2005.
Miller and Means ranches, the experimental project The issue of such success is no longer an eventual-
aided by Safe Harbor Agreements whereby participating ity in southern Texas where The Peregrine Fund has
landowners are exempted from regulations pertaining been releasing Aplomado Falcons since 1996. There
to endangered species. Results to date have been favor- are now nearly 40 pairs of Aplomado Falcons defend-
able. This summer, we released 81 captive-bred young ing territories in the region from Matagorda Island to
from four hack sites in West Texas (an additional 31 fal- Brownsville. These fledged 54 young in spring 2004,
cons were released from two sites along the Texas Gulf quite an improvement over last year. One very positive
Coast). The releases went well, the most interesting management innovation has been the provision of the
event being a young Peregrine, probably from a nearby barred nest boxes experimented with last year and
eyrie, that came in and killed several young Aplomado described in The Peregrine Fund’s 2003 Annual Report.
Falcons before they were strong enough to escape. This Like other projects, such as those involving the Mauri-
is quite a change from the 1970s when Peregrines were tius Kestrel, the Wood Duck, and many other recovering
so very scarce! Aplomado Falcons are being seen from species, our nest boxes have improved chick survival by
the previous year’s release cohort, although it is still too affording protection from predators.

3
Northern Arizona is Condor Country

T
he rapidity with which an
endangered species can be
Grainger Hunt restored to nature through
captive breeding and release depends
partly on the habitat and partly on the
natural tendencies of the species. Long
experience tells us that problems are best
identified and solved in the presence of a
released population, and the passel of
California Condors now flying free in the
Grand Canyon region of northern Ari-
zona is our case in point. Over the past
eight years, The Peregrine Fund has been
able to negotiate a variety of obstacles to
condor reintroduction, including coyote
predation upon newly-released individu-
als and the delinquent behavior of certain
developing birds. These always manage to
grow up, so to speak, responding to our
efforts in hazing them away from undesir-
able areas and occasionally detaining
them long enough to effect a change in
attitude. Why this works, we do not
know. But it does. Such solutions come
from observing condors, closely monitor-
ing their movements and activities in the
vastness of the landscape, and making
common-sense management decisions.
While lead poisoning remains the impor-
tant issue, we have made much progress
this past year in understanding the prob-
lem and its solution.
Another milestone in the restoration Here is a species on the mend. A long period of parental care: they are
of condors has come sooner than species restricted to a small area of Cali- skipping a year before breeding again.
expected. When The Peregrine Fund fornia during the 1980s, whose total Their youngster remained in the
began releasing condors from atop the numbers dropped to only 27 individuals, Canyon for over nine months after
great cliffs of northern Arizona in 1996, and whose survival many knowledgeable fledging, gaining strength and learning
we wondered if those captive-raised birds people had given up for lost. There are to soar and get along with other mem-
would develop and socialize in ways suit- now 47 wild condors in Arizona, and by bers of the flock. Finally, in August
able for natural breeding. We are pleased mid-2005 we expect the number to 2004, Condor 305 left the Grand
to report that the majority of the birds are approach 60. New pairs are forming as Canyon to follow other condors to the
indeed taking the normal six-to-eight birds mature—there are now 18 condors release site. There he calmly received
years to mature and pair up. Last Novem- at or approaching breeding age—and we his West Nile Virus vaccination and a
ber, the first wild-hatched condor in two look for yet more reproduction this com- special satellite-tracked transmitter that
decades flew from its nest cave deep in ing spring. Such events prove one thing gives precise daily histories of his loca-
Grand Canyon National Park. This year, for sure—Northern Arizona is a good tion via e-mail. These PTT/GPS trans-
two more nestlings—one from yet place for California Condors. mitters offer a new dimension to our
another pair in Grand Canyon, and the Meanwhile, Condor No. 305, the studies of condor movement, which up
other on a cliff face near the release site at wild-hatched juvenile from last year’s to now have relied on close monitoring
Vermilion Cliffs—are awaiting their time nesting in the Grand Canyon, is doing by people in the field. We expect to have
to begin exploring that rugged, wild, just fine, and so are his dutiful parents 18 of the new transmitters deployed
beautiful country with other members of who are doing what successful condors within the next few months. Results to
the expanding flock. typically do in connection with the very date are spectacular.

4
BLM Honors Condor
Reintroduction Effort
T
he Peregrine Fund, along with six state and federal
agencies in the Southwest Condor Working
Group, received the Bureau of Land Management’s
(BLM) “Four Cs” award in August. The award com-
mends participants for “making the world a better
place through consultation, cooperation, communica-
tion, and conservation.”
BLM Director Kathleen Clarke
spoke at the award ceremony in
Rules and reg- Flagstaff, noting that “rules and reg-
ulations will never recover a
ulations will species. You need passion and con-
viction.”
never recover “I believe in celebrating suc-
cess,” said Clarke, noting that
a species. You multi-agency projects are some-
times difficult.
California Condor need passion Honorees include The Peregrine
soaring over the Fund, the Arizona Game and Fish
Grand Canyon. and conviction. Department, Utah Division of
Wildlife Resources Southern
Region, BLM’s Arizona Strip Field
Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service’s Arizona Ecological Service Office, the National
Park Service’s Grand Canyon National Park, and the
U.S. Forest Service Kaibab National Forest.

Roost rocks for con-


dors. Notice white- Left to right: BLM Director
Chris Parish

wash on rocks from Kathleen Clarke; Elaine


long use. Zielinski, BLM's Arizona
State Director; Bill Hein-
rich, Species Restoration
Manager for The Peregrine
Fund; and Keith Day,
Native Species Biologist
with Utah Division of
Chris Parish

Wildlife Resources.
© Christie Van Cleve

Jack Cafferty

5
Arctic Program

W
e caught this female Peregrine on under the title of the Greenland Peregrine Falcon Sur-
19 May 2004 below her eyrie on vey. I participated many years, as did Kurt Burnham
Bill Burnham Mt. Hassell, Kangerlussuaq, Green- once he became old enough. The Peregrine Fund as an
land. She was first captured there 11 years before on organization became involved in Greenland (Thule,
17 June 1993 as an adult. After a Peregrine is two years Greenland area) in 1993. Then in 1998, at the request
old and all juvenile feathers have been molted into of Mattox, we assumed responsibility for work in the
adult plumage, it is not possible to determine age. Kangerlussuaq area and expanded the efforts to other
Therefore, in 1993 she was at least two years old and so areas in Greenland. Since 1972 there has been a large
is now a minimum of 13 years old, but could possibly amount of unique information collected on the falcons
be a few years older. A very old captive female Peregrine in Greenland that can only result from long-term
would be 20 years of age, and most stop reproducing research. The information on the above-mentioned
when about 16 to 18 years old. The average life female is an example.
expectancy of a wild Peregrine is far less than her cur- We first went to Greenland because there was virtu-
rent age. That first year she was caught and banded she ally nothing known about the Peregrine there and
produced three young, she had another three in 1994, although the species was gone as a breeding bird from
and then four each in 1995 and 1996. We know she the eastern U.S. and much of Canada, each fall Pere-
had several mates over the years and one was shot in grines were seen migrating along the eastern seaboard.
Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in April 2000. We do not know Where did these falcons come from? At the request of
where she spends her winters. The above historical Danish ornithologist Finn Salomonsen and others,
information is to the credit of Bill Mattox and the 2004 Mattox and a friend in the Air Force, Dick Graham,
capture to Kurt Burnham. organized an exploratory trip to then Søndre Strøm-
Bill Mattox and I began studying Peregrines in fjord Air Base, Greenland, renamed Kangerlussuaq after
Greenland in 1972. Thanks to Bill Mattox’s leadership, the Air Force left and the Greenland Home Rule Gov-
the project continued there every year through 1997 ernment occupied the base. Mattox had accomplished
his Ph.D. research on the fisheries of Greenland and
visited the island the first time in the early 1950s on a
trip to capture falcons for falconry. Bill Mattox and I
walked a few hundred miles together in 1972 searching
for falcons. We found only seven pairs of Peregrines
that year. Today we know of about 150 Peregrine eyries.
Part of the increase is a result of the expanded search
area, but most is because the population has greatly
increased with the reduced levels of DDT in the envi-
ronment and the responding increase in Peregrine
reproduction. There are now probably several thousand
pairs of Peregrines nesting in Greenland.
Our work in North Greenland has also produced
some very unique results that have climate change
implications. It appears the Peregrine is expanding its
range north where it was previously unknown by Inuits
and early polar explorers. Why is this occurring and
what are the potential effects on the Gyrfalcon or other
species? We know comparatively little about the Gyrfal-
cons. There is much to learn, and although I remain
Kurt K. Burnham

intimately involved in our research in Greenland, the


shift has begun to the next generation of researchers
and technology. Kurt Burnham has assumed more and
Adult female Peregrine Falcon captured and released on more responsibility for our arctic program and the tech-
17 June 1993 and 19 May 2004. nology for falcon research now includes use of satellite-
monitored transmitters, DNA genetic analysis, carbon
dating techniques, etc., although climbing ropes, back-
packs, and hiking boots also still remain essential.
Falcons, Greenland, and the Arctic in general are
special even though falcons are not easy species to

6
Bill Burnham
and Bill Mattox
(left to right)
hike the tundra
in search of
falcons in
1972.

Below:
File photo

Gyrfalcon in
flight.

study and conserve, nor is the Arctic (and particularly


Greenland) easy or cheap to reach or in which to work.
All do, however, provide conservation benefits and sci-
entific understanding. They also get into your blood.
We are sometimes asked about our interest in the Pere-
grine and Gyrfalcon. Why have large falcons and other
raptors captured the imagination of humans, seemingly
from the beginning of written history and probably
before? They do act as environmental bellwethers and
within their struggle for survival we can catch a glimpse
of our own. Through their survival they can act as a
conservation flagship and provide an umbrella of pro-
tection for other species.
Intellectually we understand this but the reasons we
are willing to endure the hardship and difficulty for
work in the far north, temperate, or tropical regions of
the world go beyond the search for knowledge and
understanding. The attitude and look in that Peregrine’s
eyes we caught on the above-mentioned date provide
insight into the other reasons. There was no fear, just a
Kurt K. Burnham

boldness, courage, and beauty in that falcon. The fact


that Peregrines can dive at speeds exceeding 200 mph,
perform incredible aerobatic maneuvers, and migrate
thousands of miles each year is another part of the rea-
son. Then there is the Gyrfalcon’s incredible power of
flight and ability to breed and survive in extreme cli- … the technology for falcon research
matic conditions without technology or even tools,
using only innate abilities and time-honed physical now includes use of satellite-
and physiological adaptations. The free spirit posed by
both species is inspiring—nesting on the highest cliffs, monitored transmitters, DNA
flying wherever they choose, capturing what they
please—and the only limits are those imposed by genetic analysis, carbon dating
nature. They are free of human rules or regulations,
political boundaries, and politics, although they can be techniques, etc., although climbing
affected by each. It is our responsibility to see arctic fal-
cons, tropical eagles, and the other raptors of the world ropes, backpacks, and hiking boots
survive for their own sake, to perform their ecological
function within the web of life, and also to inspire cur- also still remain essential.
rent and future generations of humans to be free and
conserve our natural world.

7
First Release of a Captive-bred Philippine Eagle

T
he Philippine Eagle Foundation made
conservation history last April when it
Dennis Salvador released a captive-bred Philippine
Eagle back to the wild, signaling the progression of
conservation efforts to a new level.
Propagated at the Philippine Eagle Center in
Davao City, Kabayan is the first captive-bred large
tropical forest eagle to be released to the wild in Asia.
The bird is the offspring of the eagles Kahayag and
Junior by artificial insemination. The 17-month-old
juvenile male eagle was initially placed in a hack box
for three weeks and then subsequently released to its
new home within the geothermal production field in
the majestic Mt. Apo region in southern Philippines
on Earth Day, 22 April 2004.
Kabayan, which means countryman, was released
during ceremonies attended by key persons in govern-
ment and business, including the
President’s daughter, Luli Arroyo, and
Kabayan has the family of Philippine Vice-Presi-
dent Noli de Castro who had
been observed adopted the eagle financially shortly
after it hatched.
practicing his The release was made possible
only after lengthy discussions with
hunting skills the government’s Department of
Environment and Natural Resources
almost on a personnel. It was approved as an
“experimental release project,” which
daily basis. seeks to document a captive-bred
eagle’s adjustment to the forest envi-
ronment as a preliminary step to a
full-blown program of releasing cap-
tive-bred eagles to complement wild
eagle populations. The experimental release is designed
to develop release procedures for use with the Philip-
pine Eagle. This has never been done with the Philip-
pine Eagle before, so we borrowed successful release
Courtesy of F.R.E.E. Ltd.

procedures developed by The Peregrine Fund for the


Harpy Eagle and adapted it to our Philippine Eagles.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation staff and volun-
teers have been monitoring the eagle since release.
Kabayan is equipped with a backpack-type radio and
Young Philippine Eagle footing and playing with sticks in satellite transmitter for tracking provided by The Pere-
practice for capture of prey to feed itself and hopefully grine Fund. Recent reports from the monitoring teams
future progeny. at Mt. Apo relate that Kabayan has been observed prac-
ticing his hunting skills almost on a daily basis, per-
forming mock attacks on sticks and branches and
occasionally searching for and taking small prey items
like lizards and rodents. The young eagle is often seen
in the area where the supplemental food is provided
for him, but he has also been observed soaring and fly-
ing around the reserve at times.
The Peregrine Fund provides technical and financial
support for this initiative.

8
Ridgway ’s Hawk

T
he Ridgway’s Hawk, which occurs Despite the fact that we and our local partners
only on the island of Hispaniola have found the largest number of Ridgway’s Hawks
Russell Thorstrom in the Caribbean, is one of just six ever recorded in the Dominican Republic, we agree
“critically endangered” birds of prey in the world the “critically endangered” status of the species is jus-
according to the International Union for Conservation tified. All pairs are in the Los Haitises National Park
of Nature (IUCN). That status means it is facing an and the immediate vicinity in northeast Dominican
extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the Republic. The former range of the hawk likely covered
immediate future and has a population estimated to most of the island of Hispaniola, but it is now extir-
number less than 250 mature individuals. The global pated in Haiti, and much of the Dominican Republic.
population may be less than 250 individuals, but since Survival of the hawk depends on protecting forested
our studies began in 2002 we have greatly increased our habitat in the national park
knowledge on the distribution of this species and its and several key forest frag-
abundance, which now appears rather more hopeful ments outside of the park,
than previously thought. and changing people’s atti-
Until we began studying the species, the only infor- tudes towards hawks through
mation on this woodland hawk came from a 1976 public education. Continued
study on three nesting pairs in the Los Haitises region. monitoring will be impor-
From 2002 to 2004, we have surveyed for and moni- tant to verify that the popu-
tored nesting pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks. By 2004, we lation is at least stable.
had found 72 territorial pairs, of which 35 were In April 2004, a week-
observed nesting. But of these, only eight pairs were long training workshop was
successful and produced a total of 11 fledglings. As of provided in Panama to Jesús
the last two years, we have had nine confirmed reports Almonte, a researcher associ-
of hawks shot by locals, reportedly to protect their free- ated with Fundación
ranging poultry. Loss of forested habitat and direct Moscoso Puello, Inc., and

Eladio Fernandez
human persecution appear to be the most significant Pedro Rodriguez, Executive
causes for the decline of the Ridgway’s Hawk. Director of Sociedad Ornitó-
logica de la Hispaniola
(SOH). The workshop
included observation and Ridgway’s
Florida interaction with our Neotropical Environmental Educa- Hawk.
tion Program staff. Jesús and Pedro gained valuable
experience on education and conservation awareness
methods and techniques during their stay in Panama.
SOH will be applying what they learned to educate and
The Bahamas provide information on raptors, conservation, and bio-
diversity to selected local schools, communities, fishing
camps, and organizations in the Los Haitises region.
The Peregrine Fund will continue to support local
Cuba researcher Jesús Almonte with population monitoring
and studies to understand the factors that limit the dis-
tribution and abundance of the species.

Haiti
Jamaica Dominican Puerto Rico
Republic

9
Grenada
Masai Mara Raptor Project—Kenya

U
Tawny Eagle Munir Virani & nder the mid-afternoon sun,
alertly watching Simon and I settled down beneath
after feeding. Simon Thomsett a sycamore tree overlooking the
Notice the very Mara River. We had just finished half the sector of the
full crop. Mara transect raptor counts and had stopped for our
ritual lunch break by the banks of the river under a
fish-eagle’s nest. There we sat eating our pack lunches
kindly provided by Paul Kirui, a Mara resident who has
been documenting nesting activity of various birds of
prey around the adjoining Talek River. This was one of
my favorite moments during our Mara raptor survey.
While we ate our sandwiches, a cool breeze wafted
across, accentuating the reverberating grunts of a pod of
hippos wallowing in the river. A huge crocodile dashed
into the water sending a flock of ibises into disarray.
The plains were dappled with dark pockets of snorting
animals for as far as one’s eyes could see; the rolling
Mara plains across the river were transformed into a sea
All photos by Munir Virani

of wildebeest, zebras, topi, and gazelles. Hundreds


lined up on the edge of the river bank, meters from
where we were seated. Transfixed with binoculars and
cameras, it was like watching a thriller scene from a
Spielberg movie. A crocodile stealthily floated towards
the front-lined zebras as the fish-eagle perched above
us flew across the river to get a better view. There was a
sudden eerie yelp as the crocodile leapt out of the water
with snapping jaws and missed a zebra’s neck by a hair.
The zebras retreated in confusion.
This was the great annual Mara migration where
over two million ungulates cross the Mara River from
the Serengeti to satisfy their hunger pangs and feed on
the rich red-oat grass available on the Kenyan side. Like
a Gary Larson cartoon, lions and hyenas were virtually
smacking their lips, napkins around their necks, with
forks and knives in their paws, waiting for their ungu-
late gourmet buffet. During this time, the Mara
becomes a staged concert of animals on display for all
to see, photograph, absorb, and cherish. For when the
curtain falls, one is oblivious of the goings-on that take
place backstage.
The Masai Mara National Reserve (1,510 km2) was
declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is the most
visited wildlife area in Kenya and together with the
Serengeti harbors the largest concentration of wild
ungulates and predators in the world. The result is a
whopping $20 million infusion annually for Kenya
from tourism. The reserve is entirely managed by the
local Masai community where revenue is shared equi-
tably between various group ranches and the Narok
and Trans-Mara County Councils. With exponential
growth comes development, and the need to accom-
modate more tourists through increased numbers of
camps and staff. Populations of resident ungulates like
giraffe and impala have already declined by 50% while
predators such as cheetahs are threatened from tourist

10 African elephant.
All photos by Munir Virani

harassment. The adjacent areas around the Mara’s


boundaries have always played a crucial role in accom-
modating “spilled over” ungulate herds. Pressure to
provide access to water for herds of Masai livestock
resulted in nearly one-fifth of the Mara being excised in
1984. With Kenya’s burgeoning human population,
these fertile buffer zones have been targeted for agricul-
tural expansion by private developers. The wheat farm-
ing areas have grown from a humble 50 km2 in 1975
to a colossal 5,000 km2 in 1995, with the result that
the wheat belt is now only a few miles north of the
Mara Reserve. Wheat grown on this scale requires inten-
sive management which comes in the form of aerial
spraying of organophosphates against swathes of Red-
billed Quelea and other seed-eating birds.
While the Serengeti-Mara complex is perhaps one
of the most well studied ecosystems in Africa, there is
very little known about its bird of prey communities, Adult
six species of which are regionally threatened. The Mara Reserve north of the Mara River. Our surveys also hippopotamus
combined effects of aerial spraying, rapidly changing take into account the seasonal patterns, i.e., when the and young.
land-use patterns, poisoning of terrestrial predators, Mara is dry just prior to ungulate migration (July), dur-
grassland fires, overgrazing by livestock, and tourist ing the ungulate migration when the landscape is trans- Above: zebras
pressure must severely impact avian populations, par- formed into a sea of animals (September), during the and wildebeest.
ticularly those of raptors. The Masai Mara National Palearctic bird migration time (January), and immedi-
Reserve has been listed as one of the most threatened ately after the long rains (April). Although our results
Important Bird Areas in Kenya. In July last year, The are still preliminary, they provide a useful insight into
Peregrine Fund Kenya Project and the National Muse- the dynamics of bird of prey communities in and
ums of Kenya began a pilot study to understand the around the Mara. Not surprisingly, we found that the
distribution and abundance of raptors along a gradient greatest diversity of diurnal raptors occurred in the Mara
of different land uses. We felt it was important to col- with 31 out of the 35 species recorded. Between August
lect baseline information about the densities of birds and September each year, the great ungulate migration
of prey, their distribution patterns, and how they has a tremendous impact on the populations of scaveng-
responded to different land use types and seasons. ing raptors. As the numbers of ungulates increase in the
So far, we have conducted six raptor counts incorpo- Mara, numbers of Gyps and Lappet-faced Vultures
rating intensive agricultural areas, buffer zones, and the continued on page 12

11
All photos by Munir Virani

We watch this A lion watches as vultures fly from a tree. Insets: giraffe (above) and hyena (below).

tiny predator increase five-fold, while those of Bateleur Eagles increase While the future of the Mara hangs in a balance,
three-fold. There is an influx of scavenging birds from there is a glimmer of hope. In June this year, we organ-
in awe, soak- areas beyond the Mara and the landscape becomes a ized a workshop in the Mara to obtain local support to
dining table as wildebeest and zebra carcasses lie littered develop an action plan to monitor and conserve birds
ing in the across the grasslands. While crocodiles feast from the of prey in the area. There was overwhelming support
banks of the Mara River, it is not uncommon to see vul- by local Masai and other stakeholders in the form of a
experience. tures performing delicate acts of ballet as they feed on signed resolution developed by participants that recog-
dead zebras floating in the river. nized the threats to birds of prey and recommended
I would trade The most interesting part of our survey is docu- immediate conservation measures. With the help of
menting the breeding of charismatic species such as Paul Kirui and other committed people in the Mara,
10 cheetah and the Martial Eagle, Africa’s we plan to carry out more
largest avian predator, which so intensive raptor studies to
lion kills just far appears to be doing well in achieve our goal.
the Mara. Others such as the Later this evening, as Simon
to watch this White-headed Vulture, listed as and I drive towards our camp
vulnerable, are not as lucky as near Musiara swamp, we see a
magnificent we found one active nest grey and russet bullet whiz past
destroyed by fire and no signs our car and over the swamp,
falcon in full of the adults. There have been sending out a panicked cry from
reported cases of raptor poison- a flock of small waders. Wham!
stoop. ing but little has been done to The Chestnut-banded Plover
raise the alarm. Little-known had no chance. Clutching its
species such as Ovampo Sparrowhawks, Banded Snake prey, the African Hobby Falcon lands on a dead tree
Eagles, and Grey Kestrels, confined mainly in this and begins plucking and feeding. We watch this tiny
region, make guest appearances from time to time; predator in awe, soaking in the experience. I would
their grace and beauty perhaps remind us of the need trade 10 cheetah and lion kills just to watch this mag-
to save their habitats. Specialist species previously nificent falcon in full stoop. The sun begins to go
common, such as the African Hawk-Eagle, Crowned down rapidly over the African plains. Sitting around
Eagle, and Ayres’ Hawk Eagle, have completely disap- the campfire at night as Simon prepares his classic
peared from the areas that we have surveyed. Augur Bolognaise, I can hear my heart pounding as we are
Buzzards and Tawny Eagles are more adaptable and made aware of the deafening cacophony of sounds
tolerant of changes in habitat and prey. Both these from distant roars of lions, elephant trumpets, hippo
species, Augurs in particular, are common raptors in grunts, hyena howls, and incessant cicada chirrups.
the buffer zones and in the wheat fields where they After an exhausting day in the field, sleep does not
have undoubtedly replaced more specialized raptors. come easily in the African bush.
12
Ayres’ Hawk Eagle in Zimbabwe

T
here was a distinct
‘whoosh’ sound
Ron Hartley before the net can-
noned forward, bagging the avian
missile. Falconer Neil Goodwin
was amazed to see the baleful
lime-yellow eyes of a small eagle
lying on its side entangled in the
net. Neil’s attention quickly turned
to its big feet and ample talons,
and he told himself to watch out
when he extracted it from the net!
Neil was alone, on farmland on
the edge of Harare city, Zim-
babwe’s capital. The nets were set
for a Lanner Falcon but had snared
an immature female Ayres’ Hawk
Eagle, possibly the rarest of Africa’s

Ron Hartley
eagles. Realizing the significance of
his capture, he phoned me at Fal-
con College. This exciting event
was a vital opportunity for some Adult Ayres’
useful data. I asked him to get the eagle to Neil Deacon regularly sighted in Harare and Bulawayo. The single Hawk Eagle
who runs the Zimbabwe Falconers Club research pro- egg is laid from April to May, and the closest nests feeding on
gram in Harare. My fascination with the Ayres’ Hawk found from these cities were 40 km and 90 km away, dove.
Eagle goes back to my school days; I have had a long respectively. Although there are numerous stands of
association with the species that goes back to April large eucalyptus trees in Harare and Bulawayo, we have
1981 when I trapped my first Ayres’. not yet found a pair breeding in an urban area, unlike
Goodwin temporarily secured the eagle and reset Nairobi where Simon Thomsett and his colleagues
the nets. Thirty minutes later another immature female studied a breeding pair.
Ayres’ crashed into the nets. This was unbelievable— Ayres’ Hawk Eagles inhabit the moist savanna
things were getting beyond control. Another phone call. woodlands and forested areas of the country, especially
Two hits and time to stop! The eagles were ferried to in rugged, hilly terrain where it is difficult to find and
the city where they were photographed, weighed, meas- easily overlooked. There are still extensive areas with
ured, and ringed (banded). They were released near the this habitat in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and
trapping point and took off slowly with deliberate wing Tanzania. Although the frequency of sightings and
beats in their buoyant flight. In no time they were in a recoveries suggests that this eagle is not as rare as
thermal high above the soybean lands, host to thou- believed, it has not been seen in many suitable areas
sands of doves, favoured prey of this small, handsome where intensive searches for raptor nests have been
eagle which is a bird-catching specialist. It frequently undertaken. Its rarity is probably due to its role as a
hunts from a soar and can stoop like a falcon and specialist. By contrast, the similarly sized Wahlberg’s
weave through the woodland like an accipiter, in some Eagle is quite common, as is the Booted Eagle in South
ways occupying the niche of a Goshawk. It is possibly Africa (similar to the Ayres’ in many respects, both
the most dashing of Africa’s eagles, making good use of being generalists).
its relatively long wings and a modest tail. Males range Only six nesting areas have been found in Zim-
from 615 to 714 g and females from 879 to 1,150 g, babwe, four in wooded hilly terrain and two in riparian
about the mass of some Eurasian Peregrines. woodland. Most of the 19 breeding records from these
We have trapped or recovered 20 Ayres’ Hawk Eagles sites come from egg collectors. The nest is a relatively
over the past 24 years, and 18 were in or around urban small stick structure placed in the main fork of a tree
areas, mainly Harare. Of these, 13 were females, rein- just below the canopy and usually in dense woodland
forcing our belief that the larger sex is more adept at of a relatively uniform structure, greatly increasing the
catching feral and racing pigeons. Consequently pigeon optimum search image and reducing the chance of dis-
fanciers sometimes persecute them. As pigeon fanciers covery. When a known pair switches to an alternate site
sometimes ask us to trap problem birds at their lofts, nearby this can be difficult to find again, making ongo-
such liaison is a useful conservation strategy. Outside ing research a challenge; one that we plan to accept in
the breeding season (March to September), Ayres’ are coming years.
13
Of Gyps Vultures, Gypsies, and Satellite Technology

T
he spelling resemblance of “Gyps” vul- to ensure that the Gyps do not go extinct before meas-
tures to “Gypsies” happens to be a mere ures for their long-term survival can be enacted.
Cameron Ellis coincidence. Gyps is derived from the Only a few years ago these vultures were so com-
Greek word Gups, meaning vulture; and Gypsy comes mon that a study of their ecology and behavior seemed
from western European societies, where it was assumed about as critical as that of crows at a picnic table. When
that the renowned nomadic culture emanated from the first alarm bells sounded in the mid-1990s there
Egypt. However, today’s best historical records place the were not even basic data concerning their foraging and
origins of Gypsies near the southeastern Pakistani nesting behavior.
province of Sindh, bordering India to the east and the Having discovered the cause of the species’ decline,
…the Arabian Sea to the south. Directly to the north of Sindh our next question was, “How much diclofenac in the
province, still along the Indian border but not so far environment causes the kidney failure that is killing
extinction north as Jammu and Kashmir, we find the Punjab these vultures?” The answer came back, “Not much!”
province of Pakistan. Within the Punjab we find the Gyps vultures are acutely intolerant of diclofenac and
horizon for Toawala vulture colony, the largest known remaining only one carcass in 250 (0.4%) would be needed to
colony of critically endangered Oriental White-backed cause the observed decline. Diclofenac is very popular
vultures Vultures (Gyps bengalensis) in the world today. with livestock owners as it immediately cures symp-
In the 2000/01 breeding season, the colony at toms of illness. Like ibuprofen it has therapeutic value,
on the Indian Toawala held 445 pairs of Oriental White-backed Vul- but it does nothing to cure underlying ailments and
tures; now it is home to only 160 pairs, a decline of hence it is often administered prior to death. The esti-
subcontinent 64% in four years. Of the 16 breeding sites monitored mated percent of contaminated livestock carcasses on
during the 2000/01 season, eight have disappeared the Indian subcontinent likely exceeds the 0.4% haz-
was fast entirely, and seven more have declined by over 80%. ardous to vultures; troublesome news, but not startling
We are witnessing what were once likely the world’s given the dramatic decline of the vultures. The Pere-
approaching strongest raptor populations, with numbers in the grine Fund’s immediate goal has been to limit the
hundreds of thousands, diminish in just a few years to exposure of vultures to carcasses containing diclofenac.
and we had to mere handfuls of no more than several hundred. The “Vulture restaurants” are a conservation technique
loss of these vultures represents a clear loss to Earth’s that offers clean food in close proximity to a vulture
take a gamble, biodiversity, but it also represents the loss of an impor- colony in an effort to discourage foraging among
tant player in the ecosystem of Earth’s most densely potentially contaminated carcasses. Due to the lack of
a gamble populated landmass and an unqualified loss to the knowledge surrounding the foraging ecology of Gyps
cultures that look to these vultures to spirit their dead vultures, we had no means of predicting its success, but
based on little into the sky. the extinction horizon for Gyps vultures on the Indian
Gyps vulture loss on the Indian Subcontinent is subcontinent was fast approaching and we had to take
more than the occurring at such an accelerated rate that The Peregrine a gamble, a gamble based on little more than the char-
Fund and its partners are now facing perhaps the last acter of these largely unknown vultures!
character of season in which large enough populations of vultures We focused our efforts on the largest remaining
can be collected to establish a captive breeding popula- vulture colony, at Toawala. There, we outfitted six Ori-
these largely tion sufficient for the eventual restoration of the species ental White-backed Vultures with the latest in space-
to the wild. Conservation efforts over the following technology, wing-mounted global positioning system
unknown months will likely determine their ultimate survival. satellite transmitters (GPS-PTTs), and went looking for
In the February 2004 issue of Nature, The Peregrine a source of clean, diclofenac-free meat. The Peregrine
vultures! Fund and its partners published findings that the veteri- Fund field biologists and budding vulture restaurateurs
nary administration of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti- immediately ran into an obstacle that threatened to
inflammatory drug, was the cause of the massive Gyps upset the endeavor. The Islamic religious code puts
vulture decline on the Indian subcontinent. The Pere- restrictions on the preparation, handling, and con-
grine Fund followed up this milestone discovery by sumption of meat which is not Halal. Halal refers to
hosting an international summit meeting in Kathmandu specific animals and their meat when acquired in a
with high level government officials and conservation specific manner. These restrictions made it excruciat-
groups in order to develop a plan for the conservation ingly difficult to obtain significant quantities of
of these birds. diclofenac-free meat (over 3,500 kg of it in four
The plan calls for the removal of diclofenac from months!) via the traditional routes in Pakistan. So
the environment and a captive breeding program to while remote signals beamed conversation between the
restore population numbers for eventual release into solar-powered GPS-PTT tags and satellites orbiting the
the wild. Commitment from any side has been difficult earth, and the data was routed to e-mail accounts, our
to secure, so The Peregrine Fund has also been working field biologists found themselves tucked away in the

14
Vulture at
sunset. The
future for
humans, birds,
and beasts is
intertwined.
Munir Virani

woods on the outskirts of Multan, dealing over a clean


supply of carcasses with Gypsies, people that we find Vulture
outside the sphere of Islamic code in Pakistan and
beyond the restrictions of Halal.
Home Range Food offered
(12,000 ha)
The vulture restaurant opened on 1 January 2004,
and thanks to both the wonders of satellite technol-
ogy and the invaluable service of Punjab Gypsies, our Vulture
Restaurant
restaurant is providing us a first look into the behav- No food
r
ive
bR

ior and ecology of the Gyps vultures. Some of the find- (38,500 ha)
na
e
Ch

ings are truly remarkable, and while the restaurant is


not the final solution for the restoration of the Gyps
al

vultures, it is buying us valuable time to work for their


n
Ca
ad

ultimate survival.
ab
uj
Sh

Vultures began attending the restaurant in large


numbers on the third day of its opening, and over the Khanewal
course of several months it became clear that overall
vulture mortalities at the Toawala colony were lower
during the periods of vulture restaurant feeding versus
Multan 0 10 20 Miles
periods of non-feeding. In extreme cases, the difference
in fatalities was almost ten-fold. During non-feeding
periods some birds were recorded as traveling over a
300 km radius; however, the vulture restaurant feeding foraging behavior of Gyps vultures as well as producing
periods appear to have limited their foraging range to noteworthy information on flight altitude, speed, roost
an average of 10-25 km, greatly reducing the risks that a site fidelity, dispersal, and feeding sites. But the GPS-
vulture will encounter a contaminated carcass. At one PTTs also show us that vulture restaurants are only a
point shortly after its opening we counted 337 vultures temporary stopgap, and the Gyps vulture species on the
feeding at the restaurant, eating clean food and avoid- Indian subcontinent will need permanent solutions if
ing the hazards in the countryside. they are to survive again in the wild.
Of the GPS-PTT tagged birds, the majority foraged Over centuries the Gyps vultures have played impor-
from a single focal area while one immediately distin- tantVulture
roles in the religions, cultures, and ecosystems of
guished itself as a wanderer. The accompanying map the Home Range But today’s conservation and
Indian subcontinent.
illustrates the reduction in foraging range by one tagged research efforts are providing the first windows on their
vulture as a result of food provisioning at the vulture previously mysterious lives and ecology. We hope that
restaurant. With striking levels of accuracy and conser- these first fascinating glimpses of the Gyps vulture are Vulture
vation relevance, the GPS-PTTs are revealing to us the not also the last. Restaurant
r
ive
abR

15
en
Ch
Can captive breeding and release restore

R
estoration of species in areas where they was greatly improved and is now comparable to our
have been completely lost or severely experience with other raptors in captivity. We now
Rick Watson depleted presents many challenges. The know that we can predictably breed Harpy Eagles in
Peregrine Fund’s success with restoring the Peregrine Fal- captivity, and over the course of the project we have
con and other species, and ongoing efforts with Aplo- modified and refined our methods and facilities to
mado Falcons and California Condors, has shown that maximize the number of young produced.
success is closely linked with predictably breeding and Releasing Harpy Eagles into the wild began in 1998
releasing as many birds as possible in localities where with five birds released into the forests of Soberania
they are likely to survive. It is a numbers game. We know National Park, Panama. We soon discovered that these
that some will die before they reproduce, but with eagles were most vulnerable to human persecution
enough birds released, enough will survive to reproduce when two birds were shot. One other died from natural
that the population will eventually come back—pro- predation, and although the remaining two survived to
vided the cause of decline is resolved first, of course. become independent of our care, we eventually recap-
Breeding large numbers of large, long-lived, nor- tured them for their own safety. The realization that
mally slow-reproducing birds of prey presents special Harpy Eagles suffer from human persecution long
challenges. Releasing captive-bred eagles into the wild before their forest habitat is lost inspired the develop-
for the first time also presents new challenges, especially ment of our public education program. Community
dealing with the normally long post-fledging depend- education began in 2000 among villagers living closest
ence period in birds that may spend a year or more with to the Harpy Eagle release sites, but has since expanded
their parents learning to hunt and fend for themselves. considerably in scope as we have learned to identify
For large, tropical-forest eagles, like the endangered other important audiences.
Philippine Eagle, these challenges have hampered efforts
to restore the species. In such cases, knowledge gained
from similar species can be invaluable.
The Harpy Eagle restoration project was begun
almost 15 years ago with the aims of developing the
methods to predictably breed and release this species
and to answer the question, “Can captive breeding and
release be used to restore viable, wild populations of
large, long-lived, tropical forest eagles?”
To answer this question we began by bringing
together three potential breeding pairs of Harpy Eagles
from zoos and government/wildlife authorities. Our
eagles laid their first eggs in the Gerald D. and Kathryn
Swim Herrick Tropical Raptor Building at the World
Center for Birds of Prey in Boise in 1991, but it was
only in the 1994-95 breeding season that we success-
fully hatched our first young. Between then and 2001,
when we moved our Harpy Eagles to the new Neotropi-
cal Raptor Center in Panama, the eagles laid 62 eggs, 38
of which were fertile, but only 10 (26%) hatched and
nine survived. The poor hatchability of the eggs, we felt,
was probably due to poor bone development in the
embryos that caused mortality. This and other prob-
lems were possibly associated with vitamin deficiencies
related to the lack of direct, unfiltered sunlight in the
indoor facilities. It is too cold in Idaho to have tropical
eagles out-of-doors throughout the year.
Understanding this problem, we resolved to build
Jack Stephens, jackstephensimages.com

outdoor facilities in a tropical forest location, eventu-


ally settling on Panama. After being relocated to
Panama, the eagles have laid 41 eggs of which 29 were
fertile, 23 hatched (79%), and 21 survived. Hatchability

16
Harpy Eagle populations?
Once we were confident that our education pro- hunting and surviving on their own, has proven diffi-
gram was showing measurable results, we resumed cult to recognize. Some clearly became independent
Harpy Eagle releases. Accommodating the lengthy soon after their first successful hunts, but others have
development period of young Harpy Eagles, that period continued to accept offered food long after they have
in which they learn to hunt and fend for themselves in proven capable of hunting on their own—in some
the wild, required a two-stage release. First, fledglings cases up to a year later!
were released at a permanent “soft release” site in Tracking and feeding young Harpy Eagles in dense
Soberania National Park, not far from the Neotropical tropical forest is difficult, exhausting work, but reward-
Raptor Center where they were bred. The site is accessi- ing to those who take pleasure in the sight of a wild
ble enough to allow for daily, year-around tracking and Harpy Eagle in its natural environment. We have relied
feeding of the young eagles, but remote enough to min- on the dedication of many volunteers who work for up
imize contact with people. Once eagles reached inde- to 12 months for the opportunity to learn and con-
pendence they were re-trapped and translocated to a tribute to this project, but the toll on human resources
Tracking and
much more remote destination where they were “hard is huge. For releases to work on an ongoing basis suffi-
released” for the final time. cient to restore the species, we must find ways to
feeding young
Of the 29 eagles soft released to date, most were reduce the human input required for success. One way
released at about seven months of age, just after they would be to encourage young birds into independence
Harpy Eagles
had begun to fly. Typically, it took them another 15 by reducing food, but we do not wish to push them to
months to begin hunting successfully, though the varia- hunt prematurely. Another way may be to release birds
in dense
tion between individuals was large, from eight to 19 at an older age, assuming that the birds’ innate desire
months. Independence, in which birds are capable of to hunt will develop in captivity. One trial of this idea
tropical forest
suggests it may work but additional trials are needed to
demonstrate it works consistently.
is difficult,
Young Harpy Eagles have proven most vulnerable
Immature Harpy Eagle.
to predation in the first few days after release, and
exhausting
again in the period when they first begin to hunt and
discover that some prey can turn into an attacker. We
work, but
have learned that there are precautions we can take to
reduce predation right after release, but little we can do
rewarding to
to improve their survival as they learn to hunt.
Four hard releases have occurred so far, but we
those who take
expect up to 16 more to occur over the coming year as
young birds reach independence. These birds will be
pleasure in the
released in either of two sites: Bocas del Toro in west-
ern Panama or Rio Bravo in Belize. Hard released birds
sight of a wild
are monitored closely for only a few days until we are
certain they are coping with their new location, but
Harpy Eagle in
they will be monitored remotely via satellite for several
years. Each bird is fitted with a satellite radio tag (PTT)
its natural
that transmits to orbiting satellites once every few days
and relays the transmitter’s position to us via e-mail.
environment.
Provided the eagles survive and we maintain contact
with the birds by satellite, we can find them again
when old enough to begin breeding in the wild, at
about four or five years of age. That, of course, is the
ultimate test of whether viable wild populations of
Harpy Eagles can be established through the release of
captive-bred eagles. Our oldest bird in the wild could
breed as early as 2005 or 2006, but most of our birds
will not reach breeding age until 2007 or later. We still
have a ways to go and much to learn about releasing
Harpy Eagles before we can answer our question!

17
Mission: Harpy Eagle
Colegio Brader Students Spread the Conservation Message

H
erbert Spencer said that “the great aim large bird of prey. And this is no small task. These stu-
of education is not knowledge but dents have developed PowerPoint presentations, videos,
Marta Curti action.” This certainly is true in the portable displays, puzzles, games, and murals that they
case of conservation education, where we work daily bring to other schools throughout Panama in order to
to inspire children and adults to make a conscious pass on their enthusiasm and knowledge of conserva-
effort to better our planet. Working to educate the tion to their peers. They have even made a compilation
general public about raptors, and Harpy Eagles in par- DVD of their visit to the Neotropical Raptor Center.
ticular, can be a challenge as these birds are often Their first official teaching opportunity came when
feared and misunderstood. Despite this, we have been they visited the Pedro J. Ameglio School. Mission:
very lucky. Over the past two years, we have visited Harpy Eagle participants organized the materials for a
…students from many classrooms and communities and have been presentation and group activities, which included
inspired and overjoyed at the enthusiasm and interest singing and passing out stickers to the most enthusias-
this school most everyone has shown for the Harpy Eagle and its tic students. In the upcoming weeks, they will be
conservation. working in 20 different classrooms with students rang-
have created It was only a few months ago, however, that we saw ing in age from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade. Soon
Mr. Spencer’s words truly become a reality. On 7 May they will have their own web site dedicated to the
what they call 2004, students from Colegio Brader, located in Panama Harpy Eagle and the educational work they are doing.
City, Panama, paid a visit to our Neotropical Raptor These students have generated so much interest in
Mission: Harpy Center in order to see our Harpy Eagle utilized for edu- the program that other Colegio Brader students are
cation. It was a warm afternoon and they spent an hour anxiously awaiting their chance to join Mission:
Eagle, an and a half watching the eagle and gathering informa- Harpy Eagle. Though the program has only just
tion and photos. Inspired and guided by their teacher begun, it is a shining example of what can be done in
educational and mentor, Ileana Cotes, and their close-up encounter conservation education across the globe, namely
with a live Harpy Eagle, 60 students from this school cooperation among conservation organizations, stu-
powerhouse have created what they call Mission: Harpy Eagle, an dents, and teachers to form a network to help spread
educational powerhouse wherein kids teach other kids the message of environmental protection on a local,
wherein kids about the biology, behavior, and importance of this national, and international scale.

teach other Colegio Brader students María Cristina Miró,


Sara Hurtado, and Gabriela
kids about Ehrman with a Harpy
Eagle feather.
the biology,
behavior, and
importance of
this large bird
of prey.
Ileana Cotes

18
A Milestone: 20 Years of Contribution

V
olunteers remain the backbone of
The Peregrine Fund’s Education Pro-
Jack Cafferty gram. Each year more than 100 vol-
unteers devote their time and energy to helping us
achieve our goals. Since we moved to Boise in 1984,
many volunteers have participated but two have dis-
tinguished themselves giving a helping hand through
it all. They are Bert Cleaveland and Eileen Loerch. Bert
and Eileen will each soon complete 20 years of volun-
teer service and we are indebted to them for their hard Bert
work and devotion to The Peregrine Fund. Cleaveland,
professional

B
ert Cleaveland’s initial involvement with The forester and
Peregrine Fund came long before we moved to birding enthu-
Boise. Until he retired in 1985, Bert worked as a siast, shown
forester for Boise Cascade. In the early 80s we were here in
looking for release sites for Peregrine Falcons in Idaho Guatemala

courtesy Bert Cleaveland


and Boise Cascade assigned Bert to help us find a suit- working with
able site. As a result, Bert met Bill Burnham. “I’ll never Maya project
forget that Gyrfalcon Bill brought with him when he biologists.
first came (to Boise Cascade). I had been an avid
birder since age 12 and that was a real treat for me,”
commented Bert.
In March of 1985, Bert officially became a volun-
teer at the World Center for Birds of Prey. As a recent
retiree he was always willing to help out with what-
ever was needed. From guiding tours for the general
public to organizing slides and manning booths at
events, Bert did it all. In 1987 Bert went to Guatemala
with other Peregrine Fund researchers and helped
begin our Maya Project. He ended up spending two
field seasons in Guatemala conducting habitat surveys
in the areas where raptor surveys were being done. At
79 years young, Bert is still as active as ever and con-
tinues to volunteer as a docent, conducting tours
through the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center on a
Lisa Langelier/The Peregrine Fund

regular basis. When asked about what keeps him com-


ing back he said, “It’s simple. I just really enjoy all the
great people.”

E
ileen Loerch grew up in western Washington and
was attracted to birds of prey as a young child. In
the spring of 1985, Eileen began volunteering
and shared her passion for birds of prey with some of Eileen Loerch
the first visitors to the World Center. With a small core West Texas, plus has volunteered many hours of her teaching her
of volunteers, Eileen was called upon to do a variety own at the World Center. daughter Jessi
of tasks and was always up to the challenge. From Eileen continues to be an active volunteer. When about Eagle
handling birds to giving presentations to school a volunteer shift is left empty and we need someone eggs.
groups, she was the “go to person” in the early years to fill in, she is always the one to count on. In the
of the education program. From the very beginning of late 80s Eileen wrote an essay on her volunteering
her volunteering days, she always included her daugh- efforts and summed up her motivation for education
ter Jessi who eventually followed in her mother’s foot- with, “…the education I give and receive at the
steps and also developed an enthusiasm for the World Center is priceless because I know I am mak-
outdoors. In 2002, Jessi worked for The Peregrine ing a difference in the world and myself. That is all
Fund as an Aplomado Falcon hack site attendant in the reward I need!”

19
Archives of American Falconry Grows
to Become “The Archives of Falconry”
T
he original concept and basis for the formation of
the Archives of American Falconry was that evidence
of our American falconry heritage was quickly disap-
pearing and the associated biological information on rap-
tors with it. For the most part falconry in the United States
is less than 100 years old, but our written history was
quickly disappearing as earlier 20th Century falconers
passed on. The Archives was formed with the stated
mission of preserving American falconry history.
As falconers became aware of the opportunity to
preserve the record, one of the facts that became
immediately apparent was that early falconers were
dependent upon English and European literature to
learn their sport. The first uniquely American works
were not published until 1939 by that first generation
of falconers in the country. Therefore, many of the
materials the Archives was receiving were from coun-
tries other than North America. For example, we soon
found ourselves with a considerable collection of
British falconry books. The result of all these efforts is
the largest worldwide collection of falconry-related
materials in a single location which is open and avail-
able for study and research—conceived, developed, con-
ducted, and financed by falconers.
The recent addition of what is considered the most
significant piece of falconry ephemera, the tea urn given
to Colonel
Thomas Thornton
in gratitude for his
sponsorship of
“The Confederate
Hawks of Great
Britain” club in
1781, and a tradi-
Thornton’s tional Arab hunt-
Sporting Tour Through
France (1806), courtesy
ing tent have only
The Archives of Falconry continued to spot-
light this world-
wide aspect of the
Colonel Thomas Archives collec-
Thornton (1747-1823), tions. It is now
falconer and “the greatest sportsman of his more than appro-
day,” was the recipient of the magnificent priate that the
Philadelphia Bulletin, courtesy The Archives of Falconry

commemorative Georgian silver-gilt tea urn name of the


now in the collections of The Archives of Archives has been
Falconry. changed to reflect
our growth and
Like Thornton in his day, many falconers international
have been all-around athletes. Al Nye, scope.
1915-1992, whose falconry exploits were
legendary, was named “All-American” in
both football and lacrosse in his last year at
the University of Pennsylvania.

20
Support The Peregrine Fund’s
projects with your purchases!

O rders can be placed three easy


ways: complete and detach
the form on the enclosed
envelope; call 1-800-377-3721; or see
our web site www.peregrinefund.org.
American Falconry calls it
While ordering, you can also renew or ”an awe-inspiring and mov-
initiate your membership, or give a ing testimony to the pere-
gift membership! grine’s mystique.“ Written
Membership benefits include: by 69 authors, Return of the
Whether or not you Peregrine tells the full
• Newsletter subscription restoration story. A paint-
have our ornaments
• Annual report from years past, you ing by Robert Bateman
will want this Aplo- graces the dust jacket of
• 10% discount on gift shop and
mado Falcon for your this hardbound, full-color
catalog purchases
collection. Detailed book. A lovely gift for the
• Special events notification with fine craftsman- conservationist on your list!
ship, this lovely ornament is a gift or keepsake that will . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59.50
Our Promise: We will only directly request your
contribution once a year and then it will be by mail, please the eye year after year! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.50
so please give generously. We will keep your name and
address confidential. They will not be traded or sold
to others. We will keep you informed of our progress
through reports, newsletters, and our web site. We
will work hard to see your dollars are spent
carefully and effectively. We will do our best
to make a meaningful difference.

Add this wonderful display of birds of prey to


your computer work station. Our mouse pad
features a photo collage of birds of prey,
including a Peregrine Falcon, California Con- Celebrate the 20th anniver-
dor, Gyrfalcon, and Aplomado Falcon. Mea- sary of the World Center for
sures 7 1/2” x 8”and 1/8” thick. Constructed of Birds of Prey with this qual-
rubber with a hard plastic cover. ity ceramic mug. Six inches
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.50 tall, white with red and
black artwork. . . . . . . . 9.95

Gyrfalcon Harpy Eagle California Condor

Colors Available green khaki blue orange tan/gray

Peregrine Falcon 4 4 4
Aplomado Falcon 4 4 4
California Condor 4 4 4
Gyrfalcon 4 4
Harpy Eagle 4 Aplomado Falcon Peregrine Falcon

Our field biologists never leave home without one—cotton canvas embroidered hats sporting your favorite birds of prey and “The Peregrine Fund.”
One size; adjustable strap. Back vent hole embroidered with name of bird or project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.95
Adult male Peregrine Falcon at
his eyrie in North Greenland.

Kurt K. Burnham

The Peregrine Fund Non-Profit


Organization
World Center for Birds of Prey U.S. POSTAGE
5668 West Flying Hawk Lane
PAID
Boise, ID 83709 Boise, ID
United States of America Permit No. 606

www.peregrinefund.org

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