First Madagascar Serpent-Eagle Nest Discovered
24 July 1998
The first nest of a Madagascar Serpent-Eagle (Eutriorchis astur
) ever discovered was announced today by The Peregrine Fund.
Just four years ago, the Madagascar Serpent-Eagle was presumed extinct by many. It had not been seen in 63 years and, until 1997, a nest had never been seen. The first confirmed sighting of the species occurred on 2 November 1993 on the edge of some of Madagascar's last remaining rainforest by Peregrine Fund biologists Russell Thorstrom, Victor Baba, and Barthelemy Damary.
"As difficult as it was to re-discover the species, it was even harder to locate a nest, and almost impossible to photograph the adult," stated Russell Thorstrom. "Now that we know where to look and how to look, I think we can locate more and begin the process to understand the needs of this elusive species," concluded Thorstrom.
Annually since 1993 Thorstrom has returned to the area where he first found the eagle to search for a nest. It wasn't until 7 November 1997 that he discovered the nest. After locating the nest, Thorstrom established a camp and remained for three months studying the movements of the eagle. The day the young eagle fledged, he was able to photograph the species. He spent a day in a tree waiting for the adult to return with food. He wasn't disappointed when the adult male returned with a chameleon for the young eagle. Thorstrom took advantage of the few seconds the adult was in the nest and obtained several images.
"Finding the Madagascar Serpent-Eagle is extremely exciting for us--we have been looking for it ever since we arrived in Madagascar in 1990," said Dr. Rick Watson, The Peregrine Fund's Project Director for Africa and Madagascar. "Now that we have located a nest, we can begin the process of determining what needs to be done to conserve the species. We hope these achievements will create tremendous interest and support among the people of Madagascar and demonstrate that Madagascar's flora and fauna are of international importance," concluded Watson.
Since a Madagascar Serpent-Eagle nest has never been seen or photographed, nothing is known about the behavior or biology of this secretive species. Under the leadership of bird of prey expert Russell Thorstrom, The Peregrine Fund has organized a study team which will carefully observe this nest during the next field seasons in an effort to learn as much as possible about the species' behavior. With this new information and better understanding, the biologists hope to find more Serpent-Eagle nests and begin work to ensure the species' survival.
The Peregrine Fund is a non-profit international conservation organization that emphasizes birds of prey for the conservation of nature. Best known for the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon, the organization is also involved in recovery efforts of a variety of other species including the California Condor, Harpy Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Teita Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, the `Alala (Hawaiian Crow), and endangered Hawaiian forest birds, and many others. The Peregrine Fund currently has projects in 10 countries worldwide.
Madagascar is one of the world's top ten conservation priorities. Three of the world's most endangered birds of prey exist there. The Peregrine Fund's work in Madagascar began in 1990 where they currently have two projects. One project focuses on the conservation of the Madagascar Fish Eagle, a species in jeopardy with an estimated population of less than 100 pairs, and its wetland habitat. The second is aimed at protecting some of Madagascar's rainforest, habitat for the Madagascar Serpent-Eagle and Madagascar Red Owl--two species also close to extinction.
The Peregrine Fund cooperates with ANGAP (Association National pour le Gestion des Aires Prot