Bocas del Toro HawkWatch

Millions of hawks, vultures, and other raptors migrate between North and South America every year. Because they avoid flying over large bodies of water, the narrow isthmus of Panama acts as a bottleneck for these migratory birds. Panama's numerous hills also create updrafts that raptors can use to save energy, while the Caribbean coastline serves as a reference point for birds to use while traveling north or south.

While monitoring migratory songbirds as part of the Neotropical Flyways Project with SELVA, ADOPTA's field team noted exceptionally large concentrations of raptors migrating above Bocas del Toro, inspiring us to start looking for an ideal location to establish a long-term monitoring project for raptor migration in the area.

In early October 2021, Karl Bardon, an experienced hawk counter from Duluth, MN, accepted an invitation to start monitoring the raptor migration in Bocas Ridge. ADOPTA's field team also joined in to continue monitoring this important site.

Almost 2 million raptors were observed in the fall 2021 HawkWatch, confirming the importance of this area.

Alongside our field team, we have trained local interns, including young indigenous women, in the methodology used in raptor counts to provide community members the agency to take an active role in the protection of their local environment. Additionally, many members of the local communities, including the family that hosts our field team, don't have electricity or running water. The income paid to the interns that participate in the HawkWatch directly support the local community, demonstrating how conservation efforts can support both a healthy environment and human communities.

Results

Millions of raptors have been observed in Bocas del Toro since the first HawkWatch in fall 2021! All of the count data are entered in the HawkCount raptor migration database and can be viewed here:

Results

Millions of raptors have been observed in Bocas del Toro since the first HawkWatch in fall 2021! All of the count data are entered in the HawkCount raptor migration database and can be viewed here:

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the kind support of Ing. César Romero of BocasRidge Hotel & Residences, who are the sponsors of the new HawkWatch site in Bocas del Toro, and specialist Karl Bardon, who started the monitoring there.

Additionally, we have to recognize the hard work of every staff member, volunteer, student, and intern who have worked on these projects to improve our understanding of the amazing species that migrate through Panama.

¡Muchísimas Gracias!

¡Muchísimas Gracias!