Conserving the Ridgway's Hawk in Punta Cana, DR

by Fundación 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 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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Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana 1
Ridgway's Hawk at Puntacana 1

It’s June 22nd and the Ridgway’s Hawk season is coming to an end. After a great start to the season, Covid-19 entered our lives and we had to adapt our work to the new normal. We’re very happy to say that despite all the changes, we have been able to continue our work in Punta Cana without any major problems. In fact, this has turned out to be the best nesting season on record for wild Ridgway’s Hawks in Punta Cana.

The season started off with a bang! Most of the pairs of hawks began building their nests and copulating very early in the season and we were excited to be, once again, working with such an amazing species.

Despite the pandemic we have been monitoring 17 established pairs of hawks, as well as a few lone males, and some juveniles from the previous year. It’s always very pleasant to see these young birds doing well. So far, 17 young have fledged and two more nestlings will be banded soon. The hawks success this year makes us really happy and gives us great expectations for the future.

Another important part of the project is the Educational program, this part has definitely changed during the pandemic as we usually visit all the communities near Punta Cana. This year we have introduced new ways of reaching locals via Instagram live, zoom presentations and others platforms. It is our goal to reach and educate more locals each year and for them to learn about this endangered species so they can generate interest to preserve what's theirs.

Work in other project areas has continued this season as well, though we have had to limit some work in order to take precautions due to Covid-19. We have continued to monitor about 150 pairs of hawks in Los Haitises National Park. We asked our local team to work together, but maintain social distancing. About mid season, this meant that we stopped climbing into nests to treat nestlings for nest flies. We did continue all of our monitoring of these nests and it appears that without nest treatment nest success will be lower this season. Fortunately we were able to treat many nests prior to the pandemic causing us to alter our work plan.

In Aniana Vargas National Park, where we released 25 young Ridgway’s Hawks in 2019, we have continued to monitor as well. Early in the season we observed some nesting behavior from a pair of hawks there, but after the nest they were building fell, they seemed to lose interest. This is actually normal behavior for younger birds. Often they will begin showing some interest in nesting during their first year, but they don’t normally have nesting success. Their chances of success in nesting during their first year increase if they have a nest mate that is older, but since all of the hawks in this area were just released in 2019, that was not the case. We continue to get reports from our local crew in this area and they are seeing hawks on a daily basis. Hopefully we will see some successful nesting in Aniana Vargas National Park during the 2021 season.

Ridgway's hawk at Puntacana 2
Ridgway's hawk at Puntacana 2
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Organization Information

Fundación 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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