Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) (Spanish: busardo de la Española, gavilán dominicano, guaraguaito) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae endemic to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. The population of Ridgway's hawks have been declining because of habitat destruction and human persecution in the Dominican Republic, and is classified as "critically endangered".
It is named in honour of the ornithologist Robert Ridgway.
B. ridgwayi is a medium-sized, compact hawk, measuring 36–41 cm long. The adult has brown-grey upperparts and greyish barred underparts, with a reddish-brown wash, rufous-tinged thighs, and a black-and-white barred tail. The male is greyer than the female, and the legs and the base of bill are yellow.
Diet and breedingEdit
The Ridgway's hawk's original breeding range included all of the island of Hispaniola (both the Dominican Republic and Haiti) and some of the adjacent isles and keys. However, it has since been extirpated from Haiti, due to extensive deforestation and loss of habitat there, and today survives only in the Dominican Republic.
This bird is described as critically endangered, due to clearance of its forest habitat and persecution by local farmers, who claim that the species preys upon their domestic fowl. Conservationists have countered that poultry is nothing more than a minor element of their diet, and that the Ridgway's hawk has a highly varied prey base, with reptiles comprising up to 90% of its diet. It has an estimated population of 120-130 pairs, making it, along with the bay-breasted cuckoo (Coccyzus rufigularis), the most threatened bird in all of Hispaniola. It is thought the population has been reduced to nothing more than around 260 individuals. The only known surviving population is in around Los Haitises National Park, and a relict population in the Samaná Peninsula.
- Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola. Proyecto de Educación para la Conservación del Gavilán de la Hispaniola. Retrieved on 6 February 2007.
- The Peregrine Fund. West Indies Project—Conservation Projects. Retrieved on 6 February 2007. Detailed info of on-going field studies.
- Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada. Threatened Species of the Dominican Republic Progress Report 2005.
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