My introduction to hawk ecology began while exploring parts of the Caribbean. When I was on the Haitian island of La Gonave, in 2011, I saw the regional subspecies of the Red-tailed Hawk and wondered how it could survive an area with such intense environmental degradation. Well, I returned in 2012 and discovered that the hawks could survive because domestic chickens supplemented the available food resources in this island ecosystem, and the local citizens considered this a part of the environment and did not persecute the hawk.
In 2013, I returned to the Caribbean to help on a paleotempestology project (study of past storms, for Virginia Tech) and worked for the Peregrine Fund in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The Ridgway’s Hawk is Critically Endangered and only lives in parts of the Dominican Republic. Thomas and Christine Hayes are leading an excellent recovery program and have successfully reintroduced a new population to the Punta Cana area.
In 2014, I was fortunate enough to briefly work under Dr. Hernan Vargas and the Peregrine Fund in Antisanilla, Ecuador, with Andean Condors and Foxes. The northern Andean Condor populations are decreasing and are locally listed as Critically Endangered. Dr. Vargas and his collaborators have created a reserve encompassing a large expanse of Condor habitat to help the population naturally reproduce. They are also investigating some of the biological interactions between feral dogs and Andean Foxes.