After many years of searching for a nest of the elusive Solitary Eagle by the Belize Raptor Research Institute (BRRI) and Blancaneaux Lodge, a stunning discovery was made on June 30th, 2011. Roni Martinez, Conservation Officer at Blancaneaux Lodge and member of the Belize Raptor Research Institute, assisted by Matt Allshouse, Stacia Novy and Audrey Martin of The Peregrine Fund, found an active Solitary Eagle nest in some of the steepest terrain in the Mountain Pine Ridge. The nest contained a single chick, which was at least two months old and getting ready to fledge the nest. Bird Life International estimates the entire wild population of Solitary Eagles at fewer than 1000 individuals and currently the IUCN lists the species as Near Threatened, but may be up-listed based on further evidence of decreasing population size and trends.
The Solitary Eagle is a rare and local resident with a small population size within its broad, but patchy distribution from Mexico to Argentina. All aspects of its natural history, breeding biology, and population demographics are unknown. Before the discovery of this nest, only two others had ever been found. Both findings were in the 1940’s and 1950’s in Mexico and sadly the eggs and adults were collected for museum specimens from both nests, and no nesting data was collected. The discovery of this nest is a big step forward in the conservation of the Solitary Eagle as we can now begin to understand this unknown species and its requirements, so that management strategies can be implemented and its conservation status can be better understood. The Belize Raptor Research Institute currently studying the nest, is setting plans into motion to protect the area where the nest was found and establish it as a Nature Reserve with access only for research or educational purposes. Stay tuned for updates, as BRRI raptor biologists are in the field studying the chick before it fledges the nest!