New footage of mountain hawk eagles and their nests promises to demystify the brooding habits of the “lord of the skies,” the Yushan National Park Administration said on Wednesday, promising to share its findings with the public in a documentary and book.
The park in June last year commissioned Sun Yuan-hsun (孫元勳), a professor at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation, to track a female hawk eagle, which Bunun residents of the area named Ibu.
Ibu, who lives in the park’s south, is believed to be about five years old, based on her red irises and feather coloring, park officials said.
After six months of tracking Ibu, researchers in February found that she had reduced her movements to 13km2 in a valley near the Southern Cross-Island Highway, they said.
Researchers said that the behavior led them to believe she was brooding, so they searched the area and in early May found a nest 27m above the ground in a Taiwan white pine.
Inside was a chick that was estimated to be about six months old, officials said, adding that researchers set up a camera to record the nest.
Some of the footage revealed Ibu in the same frame as a male bird one or two years her junior — likely her mate, the officials said.
The camera also captured prey that the adult birds brought to the nest, including flying squirrels, pigeons and even muntjacs weighing about 3kg, the park officials said.
Sun said that previous footage has shown the birds taking muntjacs from other predators, so the new footage might be the first evidence that hawk eagles catch the small deer by themselves.
There are an estimated 1,000 mountain hawk eagles in Taiwan, with 142 to 230 in Yushan, park officials said.
While the proportion the park is home to is not particularly high, it has the largest group, they said, adding that this year’s hatchlings would soon be leaving their nests.
Park officials said that they plan to compile their findings and footage into a documentary and science book to help people better understand the “lords of the skies.”
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