The Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori) is our most majestic and most endangered bird. We’ve seen and photographed them many times in our Rio Zunac, Cerro Candelaria, and Naturetrek reserves over the years, most often young birds recently fledged. We knew there had to be nests around, but we never could find them—until now!!! Last week one of our rangers, Fausto Recalde, found an eagle nest in our Rio Zunac Reserve, on land that we had recently bought from him. The nest is easily accessible, very close to the spot where, a few years ago, we took famous ornithologist Robert Ridgely to view this species. On that day we saw a gigantic individual soaring on broad wings quite close to us. We imagined it nested far away in the steep mountains. We never in our wildest dreams could have guessed that it would now nest right there near our little observation shelter, on the edge of an old pasture. What luck!
These first photos of the nest are taken at a distance and are not too good. Apologies for that. In fact, when Fausto was taking these pictures, he did not realize that the bird was actually on the nest. But when I blew up the photos, there was the eagle’s distinctive crested head in one of them, and its tail clearly visible on another. I had found a nest of this bird on a neighboring mountain fifteen years ago, and this is exactly how it looked– body flattened, head erect with crest raised.
Only a handful of nests of this species have ever been found anywhere, so this is big news. We may try to rig up a camera to monitor the nest and learn what the bird eats here. It is known to bring monkeys, squirrels, and big birds to its nest, so there will be some very dramatic scenes ahead. Stay tuned!
Fausto’s salary is paid this year by the World Land Trust’s “Keepers of the Wild” program. We thank WLT profusely!