Raptor Migration and Wind Energy


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Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA

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Raptor migration is a spectacle, involving tens of thousands of birds passing overhead in file, covering hundreds of miles a week in their daily journeys. How, where, and when raptors migrate is also of importance to scientists and conservation professionals. In Nicaragua, coming and already implemented projects in wind-energy generation will need good data on raptor migration patterns to prevent unnecessary kills in the placement and operation of windmills. GAIA has maintained raptor migration monitoring during the fall (southward) migration season since 2001. More recently, we have begun to observe the northward migration as well.

Important populations of migratory birds pass through Nicaragua, such as Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson's Hawks, Cooper Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Mississippi Kites, Ospreys and Peregrine Falcons. Birds of some of these species may reside in Nicaragua over the winter period and fly northward each spring. GAIA scientists have published two important scientific papers on raptor migration through Nicaragua, documenting a major southward migration route and the participation of several lesser-known raptor species in migration, particularly the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). The first reports in Nicaragua of two species, the Eastern Flycatcher (Tyrannus tyrannus) and Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperi) were made based on these studies.

Relevant publications involving GAIA research on raptor migration:

McCrary JK, Young Jr. DP (2008): New and noteworthy observations of raptors in southward migration in Nicargua. Ornitología Neotropical 19:573-580.

Arengi J, McCrary J (2004): Raptor migration monitoring in Nicaragua. Hawk Migration Studies 29:20-25

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raptor migration

Members of the community often help with our raptor counts -there comes a hawk now! Photo Joe Arengi.


raptor migration

The Gaia Program experts support wildlife studies important to the economy of Nicaragua, such as the impacts of windmills on wildlife. A major wind farm in Rivas is located along an important bird migration corridor. Photo Pablo Somarriba.



Black Vultures waiting for thermal currents to begin morning flights. Photo Pablo Somarriba.



Raptors in southward flight. Photo Pablo Somarriba.