World of Wonders

When we see things that aren’t, we miss the wonderful things that are.

A Gallery of Galapagos Hawks

This week, the Galapagos National Park resumed its efforts to eradicate from the islands one of the most harmful of invasive species: rats. Using poison bait, the GNP has already succeeded in ridding several islands of these pests. They have now begun releasing the bait on the island of Rabida.

While this approach works, it is not so simple a solution on islands inhabited by the endemic Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis). Rats make up part of the hawks’ diet and the predators could be critically harmed by the poison. So the GNP, in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center and others, has begun a capture program. The birds will be held captive during the baiting period, then released back into their island homes when it is safe. (You can follow the progress of the program on the Raptor Center blog.)

During my last two visits to the islands, I enjoyed the company of Galapagos hawks on many occasions. As with the sea lions I encountered while snorkeling and scuba diving, it’s hard not to imagine that these creatures are enjoying your company in return. From this small gallery of photographs taken on Santiago and Isabela islands, you can see why I am particularly fond of them and hope the program goes well.

Hawk with Sugar Loaf Volcano in background - Santiago Island

An immature hawk with Sugar Loaf caldera, Isla Santiago

An immature hawk surveys the highlands, Isla Santiago

Just after sunset, Isla Santiago

On the rim of Alcedo volcano, Isla Isabela

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Filed under: Galapagos

About me

CHRIS SASAKI
I am a Toronto-based writer, author and photographer who is inspired and fascinated by science. Science is our best way of understanding the natural world, but it is much more than that. Science is culture, and its pursuit ultimately leads to meaning, values and wonder.  My interests include evolution, Darwin, the Galapagos Islands, secular humanism, religion, skepticism, climate change, and science culture.  For many years, I wrote and produced astronomy programs for the McLaughlin Planetarium of the Royal Ontario Museum. I am author of many books for young readers (Sterling Publishing and Penguin Young Readers, N.Y.) and articles for children's magazines. I also write non-fiction related to the themes reflected in this blog. You can read some of my longer non-fiction and view my photographs at www.chrissasaki.com, and follow me at www.twitter.com/chrissasaki.

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