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Dr. Ponder’s Journal #12: The target zone

It is sea lion pupping season on Pinzon and a succession of new pups on the rocks have been seen every few days.

Dr. Julia Ponder, executive director of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, is traveling to the Galápagos Islands to support efforts to restore an endangered Giant Tortoise population. In this series of journal entries originally posted on The Raptor Center’s blog, Dr. Ponder will share her experiences over the course of two months. For background on her trip, click here to read or here to watch a video, and be sure to check back in to Health Talk to follow the project!

Galapagos hawk

A juvenile female who visited the camp.

Recently we had a big cleaning day. Gail Buhl arrived to assist here (and take over when I have to leave), so this was her first big introduction – to the birds themselves and to the workload of caring for 60 of them. There is a lot of scrubbing to keep enclosures clean and the hawks are amazingly tolerant of our working within their rooms. The juveniles are especially curious and tend to hop right over to watch. One danger of cleaning in their target zone is becoming a target (of being pooped on), which happened to me as I was leaning over and scrubbing. While both Gail and I had a good laugh at that, the next hit was even better. A young bird that was sitting on a perch watching Gail scrub a wall, carefully turned around before letting go, then looked over its shoulder as if checking to be sure he hit the target. He did.

Lava lizard

Lava lizard

The reward for cleaning here is the ability to jump into the ocean immediately afterwards. A combination cleansing bath and great snorkeling opportunity. Today’s snorkeling partners included sea turtles, sea lions, white tipped tintoreras (sharks), a penguin and many, many fish. The nutrient rich ocean currents that surround the Galapagos

Galapagos_our view

A view of our landscape

archipelago are responsible for much of the uniqueness of these islands. These currents, however, are cold water currents – after snorkeling for awhile, it is necessary to learn from the marine iguanas and haul oneself onto the dark lava rock to soak up some warmth.

I am excited to finally be able to share some images with you!  Gail took these with her phone and we found a way to send them.
It is sea lion pupping season on

Dr. Ponder studying bird poop

I’m checking fecals collected from floors of hawk holding areas, not our shoulders!

Pinzon and we have been privileged to see a succession of new pups on the rocks every few days. Amazing to watch how well these little guys get around on the rocks from day one. Personally, if I were a sea lion, I would rather belong to a family unit that chooses the sand beaches of Rabida for home base!
Blood samples

Blood work records. To monitor health of the hawks, samples are periodically taken.

  1. December 15, 2012 3:22 pm | Bill Huseth Says:

    Keep up the great work, Julia and TRC!

    Bill Huseth