Bye Bye Bat Falcons!

From Sharon . . .

Many times, at The Belize Zoo, if possible, we release animals, fit for a life in our forests, back into the wild. Recently, an Anteater (antsbear) received was safely introduced into a happy Anteater habitat. In the past, TBZ has released Coatis and even a Jabiru stork.

Not that long ago, two Bat Falcons were given to the zoo. Initially, it was thought that a dedicated training period would result in their being a wonderful addition to the zoo’s exciting education program. However, the nature of the Bat Falcon is that they simply must fly!

Yes, they do perch, but their “falcon profile” sees that they soar high and dive quickly after prey. Favourite food items are bats, other birds, and insects. These little birds-of-prey are found in every habitat in Belize. Bat Falcons are often recorded here around the zoo, and considering all factors involved, it was decided to release the falcons into the surrounding wild habitat.

The zoo is located in the middle of a very large tract of forest, and this same forest is becoming known as an important “Jaguar Corridor”. What does this mean for the Bat Falcons? Simply, lots of territory to establish a home, and lots of prey available for them to keep fit and happy!

And how about when it is time to nest? Since the Bat Falcon is a common species in Belize, finding a mate won’t be a difficult task. Nesting sites include tree cavities, crevices in rocks, and even building ledges. Usually two Bat Falcon chicks are hatched, and leave their nestling-nest within a month.

The release of the two young Bat Falcons went very well. Gradually, the young birds were given prey outside of their holding enclosure. It was quick and remarkable! Taking the prey in their talons, off the falcons flew! Zoo staff continued to leave prey for them on their outside feeding platforms as a gradual measure of guaranteed dinner.

However, it appears that they have taken to the wild with ease. One of the falcons returns in the afternoons, and not every afternoon. When we hear the bird call, it is a happy addition to our day here.

Watching a bird-of-prey soar and dive in the wild is always an exciting event, and we are happy to add two more “raptor wonders” into the Belizean wilds!

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