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Five White Eagles: The first migratory raptor monitoring station for Venezuela

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

1 December, 2021

Turkey Vulture group during fall migration, 2021. Photo by Luis A. Saavedra.

Raptor observation and monitoring stations have been instrumental in studies related to migration, population size estimation, and other important questions in ecology and conservation. Most raptor monitoring stations in the Americas have been established in North and Central America. In Venezuela, by contrast, raptor data are scarce despite its importance for wintering and passage migrants.

To address this gap, students and professionals from Venezuela’s Universidad de Los Andes (ULA) set out in 2020 to evaluate the relative richness and abundance of migratory raptor species that use the Chama river valley, from October through December. The team counted over 19,000 raptors belonging to species including Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, as well as rare species in the country such as Swainson’s Hawk.

Identifying and counting raptors at the Five White Eagles (Cinco Águilas Blancas) station during fall migration, 2021. Photo by Luis A. Saavedra.

IBCP is pleased to provide a Seed Grant to support ULA’s Luis A. Saavedra and his colleagues’ continuing research through their raptor monitoring station, named “Five White Eagles” after an indigenous legend from the Andes of Mérida. So far, he and his colleagues have found evidence regarding the use of this corridor by other raptors that until recently were considered hypothetical for Venezuela, such as the Mississippi Kite.

The Five White Eagles station is also being used for the study of resident raptors, including globally endangered species such as the Black-and-chestnut Eagle. We look forward to learning from Luis and the rest of the Five White Eagles team as they collect more relevant data that contributes to the knowledge and conservation of raptors in Venezuela and the Americas.

Swainson’s Hawk (left) and Turkey Vulture (right). Photo by Luis A. Saavedra.

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