As mentioned earlier in the blog, Dr. Julia Ponder, The Raptor Center’s Executive Director, has been invited to work on a project to protect Galapagos hawks on four of the Galapagos Islands this fall. She is currently preparing for her trip, securing and packing all the necessarily items for maintaining the health of 20-30 hawks during their time in captivity. We are thrilled that 3M Foundation has generously offered to donate medical supplies for the trip and Lafeber Company is donating critical nutritional products. Emails communications are flying back and forth between Ecuador (Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Foundation, and Island Conservation) and Minnesota as plans are being laid for the hawks’ care. Travel plans are also still being finalized, but in the meantime, Dr. Ponder has agreed to begin sharing information about the Islands before she is there!
“Of course, it is only logical to start with my charges - the Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) - I am sure there will be many more messages about these guys! This image is an adult from the island I will be housing my charges on (Santiago, or San Salvador). The most closely related hawk we are familiar with is the Swainson's Hawk, which breeds in western North America and winters in South America - likely a few were blown off course during migration 300,000 years ago and settled on the Galapagos Islands, eventually evolving into an endemic, non-migratory species. First piece of trivia - like Darwin's finches, these birds have evolved into physically different populations based on what island they are on. Some island populations are 80% bigger than others. And the islands aren't THAT far apart – buteos really do not like to cross large bodies of water!
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has included this species on its Red List of Threatened Species in its Vulnerable category. Total population may number 400-500 adults and 300-400 juveniles."