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L I N F. 11

1^^ K I


Monitoring of Spi.aetus ornatusand Other Raptors in the
Arroyo Negro Private Reserve, Mexico ..................2

Raptor Mortality on Roads in Central and North-
ern Argentina: A Preliminary Analysis of the
Problem ............................................ 6

Taphonomic Studies of Raptor's Prey in
A rg en tin a ................................. 15

Neotropical Raptor Literature Notes ............. 19

O f Interest ............................................. 21

Upcoming Conferences ............................ 21

The NRN is a membership-

based organization. Its goal is to

aid the research and conserva-

tion of Neotropical raptors by

promoting communication and

collaboration among biologists,

ornithologists, raptor enthusi-

asts, and other conservationists

working in the Neotropics.


Spizaetus: the NRN Newsletter
Issue 11 � June 2011
English Edition
ISSN 2157-8958

SCover Photo:
Spizaetus ornatus photographed in
Arroyo Negro, Mexico.
� Luznatura

Graphic Design: Marta Curti
NRN Coordinator: Marta Curti

Back Cover Photo:
Spizaetus ornatus
Arroyo Negro, Mexico.
� J. Zenaido Canales Espinoza

Articles edited and/or translated by:
Angel Muela,Yeray Seminario and Marta Curti



By Efrain Orantes Abadia, Proyecto Arroyo Negro A.C., fincaarroyonegroc@hotmail.com
and Carlos J. Navarro, Serment navarrosc(@hotmail.com

T he Arroyo Negro Private Reserve, located
in the Rio Negrito basin in the Sierra Madre of
Chiapas, La Concordia Municipality, in Chiapas,
Mexico, is a high-quality coffee plantation com-
mitted to environmental protection. Of its 640
hectares, only 100 are utilized in the production
of shade-grown coffee. In 2008, because of its
management and environmental protection prac-
tices, Arroyo Negro was named as the only coffee
plantation in the world to be producing "Con-
servation Coffee" by the United Nations and

Rainforest Alliance. Part of Core Area 5's Buffer
Zone of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, it is
home to at least 186 bird species and some rare
mammals including Baird's tapirs (Tapirus bairdiz),
Neotropical river otters (Lontra longicaudis) and
jaguars (Panthera onca).

Resident raptors include Ornate Hawk-Eagle
(Spi*aetus ornatus), Black Hawk-eagle (Spigaetus
tyrannus), Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus an-
thradinus), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis),

Spizaetus ornatus. Photo � Luznatura

used a specific monitoring methodology, our in-
S formation is garnered from frequent field obser-
vations during which we try to gather as much
data as possible on the diet and nesting habits of
this species in this region of Mexico. When we
reported our first S. ornatus nest to the Commis-
sion of Natural Protected Areas, they informed
us that ours was the first record for this species in
the area for more than 20 years.

Here, nesting season begins in November and
to date we have located three S. ornatus pairs,
, all of which have utilized pine trees in which

in paa. a to build their nests. According to local workers,
.h one of the nesting sites has been used for more
Spizaetus ornatus. Photo C Luznatura than 25 years. This year, each pair has success-

White Hawk (Leucopternis albicollis), Collared For- Spizaetus ornatus juvenile
est-falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus), Laughing Fal- Photo � J. Zenaido Canales Espinoza
con (Herpetotheres cachinnans), Bat Falcon (Falco ru-
figularis), Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), Turkey
Vulture (Cathartes aura) and King Vulture (Sarcor-
amphuspapa), among others. Additionally one of
the last Harpy Eagles (Harpia hargyja) reported

in Mexico was captured in the area years ago.

Raptor Monitoring and Conservation

Beginning in 2007, we began a self-funded rap-
tor monitoring program on the property, with
special emphasis on studying the local popula-
tion of Spizaetus ornatus. Although we have not I' \ '

SpiZaetus ornatus with its young. Photo � Luznatura

fully raised only one chick. In fact, we observed
an adult male throwing the younger of the two
offspring out of the nest. Generally, the juvenile
may stay in the parents' territory up to two years
after fledging, and we have documented that the
young bird sometimes helps to rebuild the nest,
which usually measures about 1.5 m. As in other
parts of their distribution, S. ornatus nests every
other year.

We have observed several prey items being
brought to the nest including: Emerald Toucanet
(Aulacorhynchus prasinus), coatimundi (Nasua nari-
ca), Crested Guan (Penelopepurpurascens), opossum
(Didelphis sp.) and anteater (Tamandua mexicana).

Environmental Education

The visual documentation of the Arroyo Negro
nests by wildlife photographers has contributed
to a greater knowledge of birds of prey among
the general public. Very soon, we hope to launch
an education campaign among local communi-
ties that focuses on raptors. It is very important
to raise awareness about the protection of birds
of prey among the people, as evidenced by the
recent seizure (April 19, 2011) by Arroyo Negro
staff and the Federal Environmental Protection
Agency (PROFEPA) of a juvenile S. ornatus. The
hawk-eagle was caught by people from a neigh-
boring farm and kept in appalling conditions for

a couple of months. Its left leg was broken and
abscesses had formed. Unfortunately the report
came too late and the bird died shortly after be-
ing seized.

It is very important that events like this do not
occur again, and even though the Ornate Hawk-
eagle is relatively abundant in Arroyo Negro, and
is listed as "Least Concern"
by the IUCN (IUCN 2010),
its status in the rest of Mex-
ico is unknown. It is listed
in the NOM-059-SEMAR-
NAT-2010 as "Endangered" "
(DOF 2010). Because of its .
low reproductive rate, the
loss of a few individuals can .
have negative consequences
for the population. Achiev- '
ing a change of attitude to-
ward birds of prey among Spizaetus ornatu:
� ]. Zenaido Cana
the local people is vital.


Arroyo Negro is a place of great importance
both for its biological richness and excellent
state of preservation. It is also an example of
sustainable economic development with respect
to the environment. The monitoring program
for birds of prey is generating information
about the natural history of S. ornatus and other


little known raptors and is the basis for environ-
mental education projects that seek to spread
greater awareness among local people about the
importance of conserving these birds.


IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Spe-
cies. http://www.iucnredlist.org/
. apps/redlist/details/144519/0

Diario Oficial de la Federaci6n
(DOF). 2010. NORMA Oficial
Mexicana NOM-059-SEMAR-
NAT-2010, Protecci6n ambien-
tal-Especies nativas de Mexico
de flora y fauna silvestres-Cat-
egorias de riesgo y especificacio-
nes para su inclusion, exclusion
o cambio-Lista de species en
riesgo. http://www.semarnat.
SEspinoza gob.mx/leyesynormas/normas/

* * *




By Enrique Richard, Catedra de Biologia, Universidad Cat61ica Boliviana "San Pablo", chelonos@gmail.com and
Denise I. Contreras Zapata, Catedra de Bioestadistica, Universidad Cat61lica Boliviana "San Pablo", dennycz@(gmail.

A recent published review (Jacobson, 2005)
highlighted the importance of roads and their
impacts on birds. It listed the four most signifi-
cant impacts as: direct mortality, indirect mortal-
ity, habitat fragmentation and ecosystem distur-
bance, although recently other, no less significant
impacts have been mentioned, such as noise
(Dooling & Popper 2007). Before this report, the
majority of studies on roads and wildlife have
been biased towards There is a tnden
mammals, reptiles, am- the impact of ro
phibians and even ar- tons. However, i:
thropods. Birds were not alone 80 million
previously considered, attributed to vehi
even though according to (Erickson et al 20
Erickson et al (2005) bird
mortality caused by automobiles in the U.S. alone
reaches 80 million birds/year. Based on a review
of previous studies, Jacobson (2005) emphasizes
the need to address both the impacts of roads
on birds and the related mitigation measures,
as the proposals to date and subsequent imple-
mented changes have been directed toward the




animal groups mentioned above. However, this
study and others (Arroyave et al 2006) focus on
this issue without taking into consideration such
factors as socioeconomics and education, some-
thing that we are stressing when implementing
mitigation measures in Argentina. No precedent
has been set in this country, where the advance
of agriculture in the last decades has, especially
in the central and northern regions, gotten to
Sto underestimate such a point that half
s on bird popula- of the land surface of
the United States the country is covered
the United States
d dath a yar ar by agricultural fields
rd deaths a year are
Ie-related incidents (Aizen et al 2009). To-
5). day, the largest crop is
the so-called "cursed
crop" (transgenic soy + Roundup) that occu-
pies almost 50 % of the cultivated land. This
has resulted in the massive loss of representa-
tive ecosystems such as the Chaco and Pampas
grasslands, and of course has lead to a loss of
biodiversity and massive fragmentation. Conse-
quently, the local fauna either goes extinct or they

must look for new "islands" of habitat where they
can continue to survive (if the carrying capacity
allows). Although birds at least have better means
to search for alternate habitats (flight), they are
still affected by these changes. A perfect example
is the case of Argentina's largest bird (Rhea ameri-
cana). The massive deforestation of the Chaco
has restricted its habitat, forcing individuals to
inhabit areas modified by agriculture, where they
end up shot (for eating seeds) (indirect mortal-
ity, according toJacobson 2005) or, they must cross
the roads in search of new habitat and often end
up getting run over (direct mortality, according to
Jacobson 2005).

Between 2007 and 2009 we conducted transects
in the north and central regions of Argentina,
two of them (Routes 9 and 34) are 1400 km each,
and were surveyed eight times, and two other

shorter routes (6 km: Provincial Route 92, from
Casilda to National Route 33; and 56 Km: Na-
tional Route 33, from the intersection at Rosario
respectively to Santa Fe Province) were traveled
24 times in total (every 15 days, 2008).

During our study period, we collected an invento-
ry of road-kill animals along the transects that, in
number and diversity, unfortunately far exceeded
our expectations. This has revealed a previously
unconsidered problem: a lack of environmental,
value-based, education, proper driver training, and
a lack of respect for wildlife. We are currently
analyzing the qualitative and quantitative data -
however, among raptors, the species most affect-
ed by the roads are: Coragyps atratus (Cathartidae),
Caracara plancus (Falconidae), Athene cunicularia
and Tyto alba (Tytonidae). In this article, we will
focus on the latter three.

Fig. 1: Left - two Rhea americana in an agricultural field, National Route 9. Right - an individual killed on
the highway, National Route 34. Photos � E. Richard.

.. . ." ..
:'~~: .: , : ,-,!.. ..:.

Athene cunicularia: This species has adapt-
ed well to agro-ecosystems and the resultant
roads. In fact, many individuals are found near

hunted by the owls. Near these toll stations, we
have frequently seen many (n=25 over 18 toll
stations monitored on Route 9) road-kill indi-

the highways that
form part of the
"soy route", so-
named because
of the continu-
ous flow of trucks
transporting this
crop. Rodents
are attracted to
the area because
they feed on the
large amounts
of soybeans that
have fallen from
the vehicles onto
the road during
transport. When
the rodents come
close to the road,
they are exposed
and become easy
prey for this owl,
which, unfortu-


9/ N~' ~I ~

_- - - . s- - ' -,^

1 ' " . " .

Map 1: Transects evaluated for this study. S1 = Segment of Na-
tional Route 9. S2 = Segment of National Route 34. 1.- Buenos
Aires, 2.- Rosario, 3.- Santa Fe, 4.- Santiago del Estero, 5.- San
Miguel de Tucuman, 6.- Rosario de la Frontera, 7.- San Salvador
de Jujuy, 8.- La Quiaca, 9.- Yacuiba, 10.- San Fernando del Valle
de Catamarca, 11.- C6rdoba.

viduals. During
just the first se-
mester in 2008,
we found a to-
tal of 28 road-
killed Burrow-
ing Owls along
one of our
transects (S2)
Route 92 (6
Skinn. All along
our survey
route, we regu-
larly see this
species perch-
ing on fence
posts close to
the road (Fig.
2). They are
active both
day and night.
Their crepus-
cular behavior

nately, is then often hit by passing vehicles. Ad-
ditionally, the owls also congregate at the toll
stations. These stations are very well lit, and, par-
ticularly in summer, attract large numbers of in-
sects, mainly large beetles (Coleoptera), which are

is of particular note. They search for their prey
(normally rodents) while hovering in the air,
relatively low to the ground. When they locate
their quarry then they dive down onto the prey
like a falcon. Because of the large availability


. *MVa
bq*j* tZ$
* ^ ^ ^ :1 ^^
1J41-^ *1' ^
. . "** k, ' .'*^ ** *i^ - vA '^ tf
M^ '^.t^

m- t. _ ..' - . '- " ,. " ~ ;

4J~ ~ ~ W,.

Fig. 2: Upper left - Athene cunicularia perched close to the edge of Route 34. Upper right - nest and
young of the same species, along the same route. Lower left and right: Individuals killed along Provincial
Route 92 (S3). Photos � E. Richard.

of food nearby, the owls often choose to nest
only a few meters from the road (between 10 and
25 m, n=65) (S1, S2, S3, S4), which has further
consequences for the species. Being close to the
road makes the young more vulnerable to being
captured for the pet trade and they are periodi-
cally exposed to being sprayed with Glyphosate
- a chemical used in the soy fields - the conse-
quences of which need to be evaluated.

Tyto alba: This species is the least common of
the three raptors we discuss in this paper. About
two decades ago they were regular inhabitants of
abandoned granaries, homes, and farms and were
always seen in the rural areas of our study re-
gion. Once the production of soybeans began in
Argentina the species has noticeably been disap-
pearing in number and presence. They generally
do not nest close to the road like the Burrow-

ing Owl, probably because their needs are differ-
ent. However, they also travel close to the roads,
mostly at dusk and at night, in search of rodents
that go after the soybeans. This is when the Barn
Owls are most often killed by vehicles.

Caracara plancus: This species is probably the
most versatile of the Falconidae in regards to its
dietary habits and it is, perhaps, the one that has
best adapted to and taken advantage of the ex-

pension of the agricultural frontier. This cara-
cara is almost always present near roads where it
feeds on the remains of road-killed animals. Un-
fortunately, it often falls victim to the same fate as
we have confirmed that it is unscrupulously run
over by both truck and car drivers with expert
precision. The caracaras, when finding a dead
animal on the asphalt, normally try as a group -
and probably as a result of experience - to move
the prey onto the shoulder or to a perch, where

Fig. 3: Left - Tyto alba killed on National Route 33, Right and Below - individuals killed on Na-
tional Route 34. Photos � E. Richard

they begin to feed without the least concern for
the nearby traffic. However, for too many driv-
ers, running over animals on the road seems to
be a source of amusement. Some drivers delib-
erately swerve onto the shoulder to purposefully
run over animals they find there. We have been
able to document eight individual Caracara plan-
cus being hit by a vehicle driven at high speeds
onto the shoulder on Route 34 (Santa Fe) where
these birds were feeding on the remains of a gray
brocket deer (MaZama gouaZoubira). We saw the
same thing happen at least four times during our
study period. We took down vehicle license plate
numbers and reported the incidents; however,
this only elicited smiles from the authorities...

Conclusions and Recommendations

According to the literature review, numerous
measures and solutions have been proposed
and implemented, especially in the United States

(Jackson 2001), and Europe (Banks et al 2001).
These involve structural solutions (fencing sys-
tems, signage, reflectors, noise barriers, under-
passes, overpasses, etc.) and non-structural solu-
tions (olfactory repellents, ultrasound, lighting
systems, habitat modification, etc.). However, it
is important to note that: 1) the majority of these
measures have been designed with land animals
in mind (amphibians, reptiles, mammals), 2) few
follow-up studies exist to measure the effective-
ness of these actions, 3) studies indicate that any

given measure has varied, relative effectiveness
depending on which of the different groups of
animals is being considered and to date, there are
no measures that equally help all of the fauna in-
volved, 4) there are no mitigation measures spe-

Caracara plancus, a magnificent bird that has been
able to adapt, like few others, to the agricultural fron-
tier and has been able to diversify its hunting hab-
its. As a consequence of its search for carrion on the
roads, it encounters another cause of its mortality.
Casilda, Santa Fe, Panasonic Lumix FZ 50, Zoom
Leica vario Elmarit 35 - 420 mm + Flash de relleno.
Photo: � E. Richard.

cifically for birds (except perhaps, informative
signs). Apparently, their ability to fly has caused
them to be generally ignored, 5) none of the
proposed solutions take into consideration those
species, and above all the birds, that have adapted
to include roads as part of their hunting grounds,
such as in the cases documented here. That is to
say, they have not contemplated or studied the

Fig. 4:Top left - Caracara plancus with the remains of a Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) killed
on the road. Top right - the same individual preparing to eat its prey while perched on a light post
along Route 34 (Santa Fe). Lower left - five of eight individuals run over on purpose on Route 34
(Santa Fe) while feeding on Mazama gouazoubira. Lower right - four individuals (out of eight) in the
"line of fire." Panasonic Lumix FZ 50, Zoom Leica vario Elmarit 35 - 420 mm. Photos � E. Richard

new population dynamics of those species that
have not only adapted to anthropogenic develop-
ments (agriculture) but also to the dynamic of
these activities in conjunction with the resulting
highways. In the cases mentioned here, the owls

find a never-ending food source in the rodents
that go in search of the soybeans dropped by the
trucks along the roads, and Caracara plancus and
Coragyps atratus find their food in the road-killed
animals along these routes. In both cases, the

road becomes, for those species, a cause of death.
It begs the question: would it be appropriate to
design or propose structural mitigation measures
that would bar those species that clearly fulfill an
important ecological function on the roads (ro-
dent control, consumption and clean-up of dead
animals, etc.)? What is certain is that the prob-
lem we are seeing hasn't been addressed. Unfor-
tunately, we can confirm that vehicle impacts on
the species involved are due to: 1) drivers that
don't respect speed laws, even though the speed
limit is clearly signed. In fact, on the majority of
our transects, maximum speed limits are between
80 - 90 km but we have verified that most drivers
go over 140 km/h, - a speed at which it is easy to
lose control of the vehicle, and 2) drivers that in-
tentionally swerve to hit animals. There exists no
adequate awareness about the dangers involved
in this, not only for the animals but for humans
as well. This is reflected in the official statistics.
In 2010 in Argentina there were an average of 21
traffic-related deaths/day and 7,659 in the year

Based on the above information we strongly be-
lieve that an educational program must be devel-
oped that addresses this problem. It should be
mainstreamed and even included as part of the
driver's exam. This should be accompanied by a
massive media campaign and integrated into for-
mal and informal environmental education pro-

grams. To date, at least in Argentina, this topic is
not covered by any educational program. In rela-
tion to these wonderful birds - "we do not love
what we don't understand, we don't conserve
what we do not love." We need a state education
policy by and for Argentina that promotes love
and respect for our natural heritage, which helps
people identify with and feel a sense of owner-
ship toward the nation's wildlife... Until this hap-
pens, until we realize what we have and come to
appreciate it, these birds, as well as the remain-
ing biodiversity, will be destroyed without any-
one caring. We believe it is essential to develop
an awareness in people that helps them recognize
what the roads have to offer in terms of biodi-
versity and wildlife. This is important not only
for the conservation of species, but at least for us
biologists, paying attention to the road helps keep
us awake and alert; important factors to avoid ac-
cidents. Finally, as an accompanying structural
measure, it would be appropriate to include signs
on the roads alerting drivers to the presence of
the animals and cautioning them to drive with
care. Other signs should also be erected that
briefly explain the importance of these species.


To those who reviewed the article and made im-
provements to it. And to Marta Curti for her
continued assistance.


Aizen, M., L. Garibaldi y M. Dondo. 2009. Ex-
pansi6n de la soja y diversidad de la agriculture
argentina. Ecologia Austral 19: 45 - 54. Argen-

Arroyave, M., C. G6mez, M. Gutierrez, D.
Munera, P. Zapata, I. Vergara, L. Andrade y K.
Ramos. 2006. Impactos de las carreteras sobre
la fauna silvestre y sus principles medidas de
manejo. Revista EIA (5): 45-57. Colombia.

Banks, E G., C. Iriwn, G. Evink, M. Gray., S. Ha-
good, J. Kinar, A. Levy, D. Paulson, B. Ruediger,
R. Sauvajot, D. Scott, y P. White. 2002. Wildlife
habitat connectivity across European highways.
American Trade Initiatives, report No. FHwA-
Pl-02-011. Alexandria.

Dooling, R. y A. Popper. 2007. The effect of
highway noise on bird. The California Depart-
ment of Transportation Division of Environ-
mental Analysis. 74 p. USA

Erickson, W, G. Johnson y D. Young Jr. 2005.
A summary and comparison of bird mortality
from anthropogenic causes with an emphasis on
collisions. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep.
PSW-GTR-191: 1029 - 1042. USA.

Jackson, S. D. 2001. Overview of transportation
impacts on wildlife movement and populations.
pp. 7 - 20. En: Wildlife and highways: seeking so-

lutions to an ecological and socio-economic di-
lemma. 7th Annual Meeting of The wildlife Soci-
ety. Nashville, Tennessee. 178p.

Jacobson, S. 2005. Mitigation measures for high-
way caused impact to bird. USDA Forest Service
Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191: 1043 - 1050.

* * *


By Miguel A. Santillan, Centro para el Estudio y Conservaci6n de las Aves Rapaces en Argentina (CECARA), Fac-
ultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de La Pampa. Avda. Uruguay 151, 6300 Santa Rosa, La
Pampa. ARGENTINA and Claudia I. Montalvo, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de
La Pampa. Avda. Uruguay 151, 6300 Santa Rosa, La Pampa. ARGENTINA, cmontalvo(@exactas.unlpam.edu.ar

C lassically, the analyses of skeletal remains
recovered from pellets produced by diurnal and
nocturnal raptors focuses on their evaluation
mainly from a taxonomic point of view. Howev-
er, taphonomic studies of recovered bones help
establish the different patterns of change that
each predator makes on the remains of its prey.

Several years ago, known taphonomic stud-
ies were carried out on collections produced by
raptors of North America, Europe and Africa.
Studies that involve South American raptors are
still scarce. (Saavedra y Simonetti, 1998; G6mez,
2005, 2007).

One of the objectives of the project being devel-
oped at the Faculty of Natural Sciences (Univers-
idad Nacional de La Pampa, Argentina) that eval-
uates taphonomic accumulations produced by
different predators is to categorize various South
American birds of prey. All skeletal remains re-
covered from pellets of diurnal and nocturnal
raptors will be examined. The methodology used
will analyze the anatomical representation, the

degree of fracture and the degree of digestion of
the skeletal elements recovered (Andrews, 1990;
Fernindez Jalvo y Andrews, 1992). The project
thus seeks to establish diagnostic features that al-
low for the categorization of each predator, so
that these results can be used as analogs for un-
derstanding the formation processes of fossil re-

These analyses are based on material collected in
eastern La Pampa (central Argentina) and in Pa-
tagonia, Argentina. Studies in La Pampa are car-
ried out in the vicinity of Santa Rosa (36 � 37 'S,
64 � 19' W). The vegetation of the area belongs
to the espinal ecoregion (Cabrera 1994), which is
dominated by Calden (Prosopis caldenia). The en-
vironment has been altered to include expanded
agro-ecosystems with fragments that preserve
some elements of the espinal (Calden and some
bushes). Patagonia's flora is composed mainly
of Nassauvia glomerulosa, and plants in the genera
Stipa, Festuca, Carex and Poa. The most common
shrub in the area is Junellia tridens, which is typical
of the Patagonia Steppe, along with other shrubs

^B-1--m-agm q4,i. tII in UU1iV 'rnoO[N400 dMO l bignalift*bei Wu" Ja imm Uate.z.PreDuUU
Fig. 1. Degree of digestion in skeletal elements (mandible of cricetidae rodent from Buteo polysoma pellet
observed in our studies).

and low trees such as Anartrophyllum rgidum, Schi-
nus polygamus and Berberis heterophylla. (Oliva et al.
2001). The locations of the study are the Petri-
fied Forest National Monument (47 � 66 'S, 67 �
99' W) and Ria Deseado (47 � 45 'S, 65 � 56' W)
in the province of Santa Cruz.

For this type of taphonomic analysis, large sam-
ples are sought of pellets and/or prey remains, so
that there are enough bone elements to make the
assessments relative. Recovered bones are ob-
served under a Leica Ms5 stereomicroscope and
those of greatest interest are photographed with
a taphonomic scanning microscope (Fig. 1)

Currently, evaluations are being done on samples
produced by Barn Owl (Tyto alba), Variable Hawk
(Buteo polyosoma), American Kestrel (Falco sparveri-
us), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Aplomado
Falcon (Falco femoralis) and Austral Pygmy Owl
(Glaucidium nanum) from the areas previously de-

So far, results have been obtained that allow for
an assessment of the changes that Athene cunicu-
lanra provokes on the bones of its amphibian and
rodent prey. This analysis was based on bones
recovered from 132 pellets and allowed for the
categorization of this raptor as a predator that

causes mild to moderate changes in the bones
of its prey (Montalvo and Tejerina 2009). An ad-
ditional 1,486 rodent bones were analyzed from
67 pellets produced by Caracaraplancus. These re-
sults were compared with the changes that this
predator made in the undigested remains of ro-
dents. Findings suggest that the Caracara plancus
produces two types of remains, one with bones
that are greatly modified through digestion and
breakage; and another that includes the bones of
discarded body parts, which shows strong modi-
fications due to breakage, but no corrosion due
to digestion (Montalvo and Tallade, 2009, 2010).

Taphonomic studies are also being conducted on
1,699 rodent (mainly sigmodontine) bones ob-
tained from 70 White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
pellets. The representatives of the genus Elanus
have many attributes that make them similar to
Strigiformes, such as flight feathers with velvety
barbules; zygodactyly; forward facing, large eyes;
perioral bristles; thick, short tarsi; and equality in
size and compactness of the pellets. It has been
suggested that this is the result of evolutionary
convergence in species which occupy similar
ecological niches (Black et al. 2006). However,
results of taphonomic evaluations confirm pre-
vious suggestions (Leveau et al. 2002) which indi-
cate that Elanus leucurus causes strong to extreme
changes in the bones of their prey, clearly differ-
ent from those that are caused by Strigiformes.

Assuming that birds of prey could have contrib-
uted to the formation of bone accumulations in
the past, and that remains of medium to small
vertebrates represent an important part of the
zooarchaeological and fossil records, these evalu-
ations, which place these raptors in different cat-
egories based on the levels of modification they
cause in the bones of their prey, can be used as
current analogues that will help us to better un-
derstand the processes and agents that may have
been involved in the formation of such records
(Andrews, 1990, Fernindez Jalvo y Andrews,
1992). Particularly, these studies help to interpret
the possible accumulation mechanisms of the
remains of small and medium vertebrates, com-
mon in the fossil record of Neogene deposits in


Andrews, P. 1990. Owls, caves and fossils. Pre-
dation, preservation, and accumulation of small
mammal bones in caves, with the analysis of
the Pleistocene cave faunas from Westbury-sub-
Mendip, Somerset, UK, Natural History Museum
Publications, London, pp. 231.

Cabrera, A. 1994. Regiones Fitogeogrificas Ar-
gentinas. Enciclopedia Argentina de Agricultura
y Jardineria, Primera Reimpresi6n, Tomo II, Fas-
ciculo I, Editorial Acme, Buenos Aires, Argen-

Fernindez Jalvo, Y and Andrews, P. 1992. Small
mammal taphonomy of Gran Dolina, Atapuerca
(Burgos), Spain, Journal of Archaeological Sci-
ence 19 (1992) 407-428.

G6mez, G. 2005. Analysis of bone modifications
of Bubo virginianus' pellets from Argentina, Jour-
nal of Taphonomy 3 (1): 1-16.

G6mez, G., 2007. Predators categorization based
on taphonomic analysis of micromammals
bones: a comparison to proposed models. Ta-
phonomy and Zooarchaeology in Argentina ed-
ited by M.A. Gutierrez, L. Miotti, G. Barrientos,
G. Mengoni Gofialons and M. Salemme. ISBN
9781407300184 BAR S1601 (British Archaeolog-
ical Report).

Leveau, L. M., C. M. Leveau and Pardifias U. E J.
2002. Dieta del Milano Blanco (Elanus leucrus)
en Argentina. Ornitologia Neotropical 13: 307-

Montalvo, C.I. and Tallade, P. 2009. Taphonomy
of the accumulations produced by Caracara
plancus (Falconidae). Analysis of prey remains
and pellets. Journal of Taphonomy 7(2-3):235-

Montalvo, C. I. and Tallade, P.O. 2010. Anilisis
tafon6mico de restos no ingeridos de roedores
presa de Caracaraplancus (Aves, Falconidae).
Zooarqueologia a principios del siglo XXI:
aportes te6ricos, metodol6gicos y casos de estu-

dio, editado por M. De Nigris, P. M. Fernindez,
M. Giardina, A. E Gil, M. A. Gutierrez, A. Izeta,
G. Neme and H. D. Yacobaccio editorses: 419-

Montalvo, C. I. and Tejerina, P. 2009. Anilisis
tafon6mico de los huesos de anfibios y roedores
depredados por Athene cunicularia (Strigi-
formes, Strigidae) en La Pampa, Argentina.
En "Mamiil Mapu: pasado y present desde la
arqueologia pampeana" M. Ber6n, L. Luna, M.
Bonomo, C. Montalvo, C. Aranda y M. Carrera
Aizpitarte editorses, Tomo 1: 323-334.

Oliva, G., Gonzales L., Rial P. and Livraghi E..
2001. Areas ecol6gicas de Santa Cruz y Tierra
del Fuego. Pp 41-82. En: P. BORRELLI AND
G. OLIVA [EDS.]. Ganaderia ovina sustentable
en la Patagonia Austral. Tecnologia de manejo
extensive. Convenio INTA-UNPA-CAP. Rio
Gallegos, Santa Cruz, Argentina.

Negro, J.J., Pertoldi C., Randi E., Ferrero J. J,
L6pez-Caballero J. M., Rivera D., and Kor-
pimaki E. 2006. Convergent evolution of Elanus
kites and the owls. Journal of Raptor Research

Saavedra, B. and Simonetti, J., 1998. Small mam-
mal taphonomy: intraspecific bone assemblage
comparison between South and North Ameri-
can barn owl, Tyto alba, populations. Journal of
Archaeological Science 25: 165-170.


By Lloyd Kiff, The Peregrine Fund, lkiff@peregrinefund.org

Recent publications of interest to Neotropi-
cal researchers and students include the follow-
ing popular title:

"Aves rapaces de Uruguay, Argentina, Brasil
y Paraguay," by Fernando Perez PiedraBue-
na - a nice addition to the Mercosur raptor litera-
ture. This 64-page volume contains brief notes
on the status, distribution, habitat, breeding biol-
ogy, diet, and conservation of about 80 species
of diurnal birds of prey and owls. The strongest
feature of the book is the abundance of color
photos (some of captive birds) of most of the
species covered, and these should be a useful
tool for field identification of the raptors in the
region. The price of this book is $32 for Latin
American countries outside of Uruguay and $34
for U.S. and European customers. It can be pur-
chased at www.guyunusa.com, and payment can
be made via PayPal. (Text in Spanish)

Since its description in 1922, the White-collared
Kite (Leptodon forbesi) of the humid forests of
northeastern Brazil has been considered to be
one of the most enigmatic and rarest raptor spe-
cies in the world. Both its status as a separate
species (from the more common Gray-headed

Kite) and even its very survival have been regu-
larly questioned over the past few decades. Sur-
veys were conducted in the states of Alagoas and
Pernambuco in October 2007 and February 2008
by an international team of raptor superstars to
confirm the presence of the White-collared Kite
and to gain some idea of its population size.

Two exciting and important papers have recently
reported the major results of this work:

D6nes, F.V., L.F. Silveira, S. Seipke, R. Thor-
strom, W.S. Clark, and J.-M. Thiollay. 2011.
The White-collared Kite (Leptodon forbesi
Swann, 1922) and a review of the taxonomy of
the Grey-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis).
Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123(2):323-
331. (Text in English)

This paper is based in large part on the Master's
thesis of Francisco Denes, which he completed
at the Universidade de Sio Paulo under the direc-
tion of Dr. Luis Silveira. Francisco and his co-
authors made a detailed morphological analysis
of the handful of specimens known of this spe-
cies and provided a very convincing argument for
the validity of the White-collared Kite as a sepa-
rate species. The paper also includes the most

thorough analysis to date of the taxonomy of the
closely related Gray-headed Kite, and the authors
concluded that it is best treated as a monotypic

Seipke, S. H., F. V. D6nes, F. Pellinger, R.
Thorstrom, J.-M. Thiollay, L. F. Silveira,
and W. S. Clark. 2011. Field identification
of White-collared Kite Leptodon forbesi and
similar-looking species in north-east Brazil.
Neotropical Birding 8:29-39. (Text in Eng-

This very detailed and well illustrated paper re-
ports the major results of the field surveys and
includes a wonderful color plate showing vari-
ous views of the White-collared Kite and several
similar sympatric species. The latter should be
an invaluable aid to birders and researchers who
visit northeastern Brazil in search of the White-
collared Kite. Like the Denes et al. paper, this
one leaves little doubt that Leptodon forbesi is a
"good" species. The authors took ca. 750 photo-
graphs of at least 20 individual kites, which pro-
vides some cause for hope that this species can
be saved from extinction.

Another recent paper with taxonomic and life-list
consequences is:

Millsap, B.A., S.H. Seipke, and W.S. Clark.
2011. The Gray Hawk (Buteo nitidus) is two

species. Condor 113:326-339. (Text in Eng-
lish with Spanish resume)

As is the case with the Leptodon species, the taxon-
omy of gray hawks has been argued for decades
at the generic, specific, and subspecific levels. In
this paper, these three authoritative authors com-
pared the plumage, morphology, and alarm calls
of Gray Hawks from north and south of a dis-
tributional gap in the overall range in Costa Rica.
On the basis of these characters, they concluded
that two species should be recognized, including
the Gray-lined Hawk (Buteo nitidus) south of Cos-
ta Rica and the Gray Hawk (Buteoplagiatus) north
of Costa Rica. This interpretation coincides with
the mitochondrial DNA study of Riesing et
al. (2003), so it is anticipated that the pertinent
North and South American Check-list Commit-
tees will adopt the authors' recommendations. (It
is a total certainty that these hawks will be treated
as two species in the field guides being published
in the near future by Bill Clark and Sergio Seipke,

PDFs of these papers and hundreds of others
can be found on the Global Raptor Information
Network (GRIN), www.globalraptors.org; on the
homepages of the authors; and in the GRIN bib-



Course Instructor: William S. Clark
Location: Hidden Valley Inn, Belize W A.M "

You are cordially invited to register for BRRI's first Neotropical Raptor Iden-
tification workshop. It will be conducted by International Raptor Expert and
Author Bill Clark, in the Central American gem, Belize.
To register, or for more information, please contact Ryan Phillips, harpiabz@yahoo.com


Peru. http://www.neotropicalornithology.org/

ville, Florida, United States. http: //www.birdmeetings.org/aou2011 /

couver, British Columbia, Canada. http: //www.naoc-v2012.com/

A proposal is currently being considered to hold a joint RAPTOR CONFERENCE in Bari-
loche, Argentina in October 2013. Participating groups will likely include RRF, NRN & WWGBP.
Confirmation and further details will be available later this year


j ,,

To join the Neotropical Raptor Network please send
an e-mail to Marta Curti at mcurti@peregrinefund.org,
introducing yourself and stating your interest in Neo-
tropical raptor research and conservation.