Black-and-chestnut Eagle nest discovered here at last!!!!!!!!!!

Black-and-chestnut Eagle juvenile in our Cerro Candelaria Reserve in 2009. This is the first one that we were able to photograph well. Luis Recalde had to climb a tree to get the green background instead of a glaring sky. Photo: Luis Recalde/EcoMinga.

Black-and-chestnut Eagle juvenile in our Cerro Candelaria Reserve in 2009. This is the first time we were able to photograph this species well. Luis Recalde had to climb a tree to get the green background instead of a glaring sky. Photo: Luis Recalde/EcoMinga.


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!

Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori) nest!!!! Bird is in the nest, body pressed flat, crested head raised and looking at the photographer. Photo: Fausto Recalde/EcoMinga.

Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori) nest!!!! Bird is in the nest, body pressed flat, crested head raised and looking at the photographer. Photo: Fausto Recalde/EcoMinga.

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.

Magnified nest photos taken a few minutes apart. Very pixellated but still good enough to positively identify the occupant. Leftmost photo shows head looking backwards. Middle photo shows eagle head, with crest raised, looking at Fausto Recalde, the photographer. No other local bird of prey has a crest like that. Right: Eagle is looking to right, and raised up its tail, which is visible over the left edge of the nest. Photos: Fausto Recalde/EcoMinga.

Magnified nest photos taken a few minutes apart. Very pixellated but still good enough to positively identify the occupant. Best to click to enlarge it. Leftmost photo shows head looking backwards. Middle photo shows eagle head, with crest raised, looking at Fausto Recalde, the photographer. No other local bird of prey has a crest like that. Right: Eagle is looking to right, and raised up its tail, which is visible over the left edge of the nest. Photos: Fausto Recalde/EcoMinga.

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!

Lou Jost

9 thoughts on “Black-and-chestnut Eagle nest discovered here at last!!!!!!!!!!

  1. Whoa, what a find! Looking forward to further reports!

    ” Luis Recalde had to climb a tree to get the green background instead of a glaring sky.”

    And just how did you persuade the eagle to be so patient? 😀

    And that’s how such outstanding photos are obtained. You should market prints of this!

    • Diane, yes, our guards (particularly Luis and Fausto) have turned into very impressive photographers, even though they had never done any photography before they worked for us. Some of their images are truly amazing. Apparently they recently managed to film one of our otters in the Zunac—I’ll put that up as soon as I get my hands on it.

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