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

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