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
Ridgway's hawk (male)
Ridgway's hawk (male)

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.

 

Ridgway's hawk (female)
Ridgway's hawk (female)
Project Staff members in action
Project Staff members in action
Project Staff members in action 2
Project Staff members in action 2
Leo - the Avian Ambassador, juvenile plumage
Leo - the Avian Ambassador, juvenile plumage
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Ridgway's hawk ready for lunch!
Ridgway's hawk ready for lunch!

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!

These net houses protect the farm chicks!
These net houses protect the farm chicks!
Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) Pigeons
Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) Pigeons
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Baby Buteo ridgwayi
Baby Buteo ridgwayi

We are happy to report that 2021 is shaping up to be the most successful year so far for the Ridgway's Hawk population in Puntacana. Last year we ended the season with 21 wild fledged young recruited and this year we have surpassed that number with 21 nestlings already fledged so far and we are monitoring 4 more nestlings that are still in the nest! Isn’t that just amazing?! But ofcourse, other exciting things happened this season... We found a new pair of hawks, two male hawks that were alone found their forever love, we finally found one pair that we spent all season searching for - and the good news is they are currently incubating eggs. Also a pair just laid a second clutch of eggs after already raising two beautiful nestlings this breeding season. This year we are monitoring 20 pairs of hawks in Puntacana.

Puntacana isn’t the only place where amazing things occurred this season. In Aniana Vargas National Park 24 nestlings were released with the help of volunteers that live in the community near the release site. Great things await for this new site. We have high hopes regarding this new population that we are creating. Throughout the year, our local team will continue to search for new pairs and continue doing environmental education work in the communities nearby. 

In Los Haitises National Park, the last stronghold for the species, our team of local biologists is monitoring close to 140 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawk. At the same time, we have all continued working hard to provide environmental education programs about the hawk to adults and children in Dominican Republic. During the height of Covid-19, we conducted online conferences and presentations with different schools in Dominican Republic, as well as for the general public. Now that the pandemic is a bit more under control, we have slowly started venturing into the communities again, going door to door to talk with people about the importance of the hawk and its conservation. This is the best way for us to complete the important work of reaching those who live near Ridgway's Hawk territory and who do not have access to technology. On May 25th we celebrated Ridgway's Hawk Day with an online conference that just went great! Times are changing and we are definitely changing with it. Finally, with our local partners, we began a virtual campaign, sharing news, stories, and images of the hawks on social media, in newspapers, and through radio messages. All in all we have reached over 4,000 people this year. 

Another successful season on the Ridgway’s Hawk Project.

Project Staff in action
Project Staff in action
A couple of newborns
A couple of newborns
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Ridgway's hawk - Photo by Alejandro Rosendo
Ridgway's hawk - Photo by Alejandro Rosendo

It’s February 18th and Ridgway’s Hawks nesting season has just begun. We are beyond excited to witness what this new season is going to bring. Every year we find ourselves more and more grateful to continue preserving this Critically Endangered species.

Last nesting season in Puntacana was our most successful to date with a total of 21 wild fledged young recruited into the population. We have great expectations for 2021. As usual, we are now in full swing as we prepare for the next six months of hard work monitoring Ridgway’s Hawks in our three sites. During this season we will also search for new nesting pairs and individuals, as well as continue with environmental education activities. The season just started and we already have four pairs of hawks incubating and 3 new pairs of hawks in the area. Isn’t this just wonderful!

In Aniana Vargas, our newest release site, we have documented the first pair of Ridgway’s Hawks in the area. This marks the beginning of this new population as we are hoping to be able to release twenty five new nestlings there in 2021. We hope these ambassadors will eventually become part of a new pair and contribute to the growth of the population.

In Los Haitises National Park, the hard work has also begun and our teams are busy monitoring Ridgway’s Hawk in three key areas of the park.

Meanwhile, we are also focusing on environmental education projects.  We will soon be starting a new education campaign for the Puntacana area. This campaign will focus on the importance of the Ridgway’s Hawk and includes radio messages, posters, and social media presence. We keep making progress on our raptor-based environmental education guide and for this year we are planning a few zoom meetings with different schools around the country.

We are always grateful for all of the support you’ve given us through the years. Let the new nesting season begin!

Ridgway's hawk @ Puntacana  Photo by Gabriela Diaz
Ridgway's hawk @ Puntacana Photo by Gabriela Diaz
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Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi)
Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi)

It’s October and the Ridgway's Hawks are officially taking a recess from their busy nesting season. We usually continue to monitor them to make sure that they are still in their territories and in optimum health. As the 2020 nesting season is officially over, we're beyond excited to announce that this has been the most successful nesting season in Puntacana so far.

During the 2020 nesting season we monitored 18 pairs of Ridgway’s Hawks in Puntacana and 17 of these pairs attempted nesting. We observed 21 nestlings successfully fledge, of which we were able to band 18. This gives us hope for the future of Ridgway’s Hawk in Puntacana and the Dominican Republic.

With Covid 19 it has definitely been a strange year! You may be wondering how we managed to keep the project going and at the same time have our most successful nesting season in Puntacana during such a difficult time. The lions share of all the work was achieved by the locals who have been trained to accomplish this important work. Thanks to their dedication and commitment, we were able to keep working despite the pandemic and the adversities that it caused. This is why it is so important for us to keep training locals, and now our resolve to do this is stronger than ever.

As you can imagine due to COVID-19, we were unable to conduct face to face education outreach in Dominican Republic throughout most of FY 2020. However, at the start of the year, we did conduct community and school visits reaching a total of 1,600 people, of which 1,479 were first time contacts. We distributed 10 chicken coops, held 3 workshops for 34 people (19 of which were teachers) and visited 18 communities and 4 schools. While we were unable to host any Ridgway's Hawk Day activities, we did host a virtual event which included a presentation and a chance for participants to meet some of our field team in Los Limones and Puntacana. We had 17 participants for this event.

We also designed and printed several new education materials which are available in both Spanish and Haitian Creole. We continue to make progress on the text and design of our raptor-based environmental education guide which we hope to make available throughout the Caribbean, and available in Spanish, English, and Haitian Creole.

We're already preparing ourselves for the next nesting season and as you can see, great things are coming for the Ridgway's Hawk Project next year.

Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana Resort & Club
Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana Resort & Club
Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana Resort & Club 2
Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana Resort & Club 2
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Organization Information

Fundacion Grupo Puntacana

Location: Santo Domingo, no applicable - Dominican Republic
Website:
Project Leader:
Jacob Kheel
Vice President
Santo Domingo, N/A Dominican Republic
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