In 2023, Coastal Raptors provided funding for purchasing five camera traps to monitor large raptor nesting in Colombia. We made the donation to support the work of Proyecto Grandes Rapaces de Colombia (Large Raptors of Colombia), a private company with research and education programs for the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) and Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis). Director Mateo Giraldo and his team of citizen scientists use photos and videos from camera traps placed high in the rain forest tree canopy to document nesting success and diet and for public education and outreach.
Since 2021, Large Raptors of Columbia has been monitoring the first known nesting of Crested Eagles in Columbia. This rarest of nests in the country was found by Diego Andres Polo Martinez, a 14-year old member of the local community at the time of his discovery.
In 2023, the Crested Eagle pair moved to a new location for nesting. The new nest was discovered by Diego’s grandfather, Ladislao Polo Casillo. In an email to me, Mateo wrote we call him Don Polo affectionately. The entire family loves the eagles.
The eagle pair hatched one egg on April 1. Mateo wrote the chick named Millo started growing rapidly,. Its parents fed it mainly with snakes and marsupials, but also with birds. To have a better observation point, we built a platform at 25 meters away from the next tree…Millo started flying at 4 months old, and we decided to install a trap camera donated Coastal Raptors on the platform as we already had a feeling that we wouldn’t be the only ones using it.
Educational outreach is a critical part of the conservation efforts of Large Raptors of Colombia. This is accomplished in large part through Harpy Cinema, a program where nature photos, videos, films and documentaries – especially about Harpy Eagles – are taken to rural communities (sample video below).
In rural communities, raptors are often shot because they sometimes prey on chickens and other domestic animals which are important to them for food. Through their education programs, Large Raptors of Colombia relays the message that raptors in their forests are not harmful and instead are essential for maintaining ecosystem balance. To date, Large Raptors has reached over 500 people in five municipalities with their outreach program.
Mateo wrote, David has been a strategic ally in our project. I met him through Felipe from Alianza Natural. David was my tree climbing instructor. I met him in 2021 in discovering the canopy course. Then David started helping us with managing funds to visit the nesting areas and he has also helped us get camera traps for monitoring. He has been an excellent ally.