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 flying at Punta Cana
Ridgway's Hawk flying at Punta Cana

Awesome news from Punta Cana: July is almost over and the Ridgway’s Hawk nesting season is nearing the end. After a few very busy months, we´re beyond delighted with the results. In Punta Cana alone we have a total of 28 pairs of hawks - including a couple of brand-new pairs we found this year and a few solo males in the area. These pairs at Punta Cana have fledged 26 young so far this year making it another record breaking season. This makes us incredibly happy and motivated to continue the trend!

Earlier this month we had the opportunity to be part of the American Ornithological Society and BirdsCaribbean 2022 Conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Over 750 attendees were able to listen to presentations and learn about  bird conservation projects all around the world including - the Ridgway’s Hawk Project. Many attendees also were able to take part in a workshop that we conducted to teach about the importance of birds of prey and the role they play in nature.

In DR we conducted some visits to communities near the sites that we had not been able to visit because of Covid, as well as visiting new communities. In the Punta Cana area alone, we visited over 30 different communities and reached over 500 individuals.

On May 25th, we celebrated Ridgway’s Hawk Day in the Dominican Republic. We held a festival ZOODOM (National Zoological Park) where students and visitors got the opportunity to play games, do art activities, receive talks, and get to interact with our ambassador hawks. Around 1,200 students from different schools all around Santo Domingo participated in this celebration. It was awesome! So far this year we have reached over 3,250 people through our education program. Additional activities were conducted in Punta Cana and the surrounding area, including our ambassador hawks visiting Juanillo’s elementary school. Our focus now that the nesting season is over is to keep reaching more and more communities and keep spreading the knowledge about this incredible bird species.

Another exciting bit of news is that our Raptors of the Caribbean Guide are coming along pretty well, we already printed the first draft in English! Our goal is to have this guide translated to Spanish, Hatian Creole, and other languages spoken on the Caribbean islands by the end of this year.

We also had the amazing opportunity to meet with Mr. Abdulla Shahid, UN President of the General Assembly. We had a brief talk with him about our conservation efforts with our partners from the Grupo Puntacana Foundation.     

The Ridgway’s Hawk population in Los Haitises National Park is also doing very well. Our local teams continue to work hard to find nesting pairs, treat nests and young for nest fly parasite infestations, and also educate locals about the importance of the hawks. Because of their amazing efforts, we expect nest productivity rates to be the same or even better than last year. We will have a better idea of final numbers at the end of the breeding season.

We also have some exciting news about our newest Ridgway’s Hawk population in Aniana Vargas National Park. We’re happy to announce the first wild young have fledged near the small town of Caballero. This gives us hope and excitement about the future of this population and the effort the team puts in daily to preserve the species. We have been receiving visitors from Santo Domingo and showing them the daily routine at the hack site where 25 new hawks have recently been released. We hope they can make it and become successful adults like the pair that fledged the first young this season.

We are thankful for all your support!

Children from the community and our Team
Children from the community and our Team
Children from the community and our Team 2
Children from the community and our Team 2
Mr. Abdulla Shahid and Leo the avian ambassador
Mr. Abdulla Shahid and Leo the avian ambassador
Ridgway's Hawk chick banded
Ridgway's Hawk chick banded
Locals from nearby communities at the hawks site
Locals from nearby communities at the hawks site
Babeque high school visitors and community members
Babeque high school visitors and community members
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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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Organization Information

Fundacion Grupo Puntacana

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