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CoastLine is a variety news show, which airs Wednesdays from 12pm - 1pm on WHQR.Every week, we’ll look into issues that matter in the Cape Fear Region. Host Rachel Lewis Hilburn will interview expert guests and invite you to join the conversation.

CoastLine: Searching For The Next Harpy Eagle Nest In Belize Using Drones

Jamie Rotenberg

It was an expedition into the Mayan Mountains in 2005 which led Jamie Rotenberg to the Bladen Nature Reserve in Belize where he spotted a juvenile harpy eagle.  More than five years later, he discovered a harpy eagle nest – creatures once thought to be extinct. 

The harpy eagle is the largest raptor in the Americas and it’s still considered an extremely endangered species.  The search continues to find the next set of nests. And Jamie Rotenberg, an environmental ecologist and ornithologist who specializes in tropical ecology, says he doesn’t want to wait another five years to make that discovery. We find out how he plans to expedite the process.

On this edition of CoastLine, we also explore why finding the nests is so challenging, what other factors are affecting the harpy eagle population, and what that tells us about the state of the ecosystem.


Jamie Rotenberg is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Department of Environmental Sciences.  In addition to his work on harpy eagles, he’s studied populations of eastern Painted Buntings in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

Griffin Bryn is a Senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Department of Environmental Sciences. He’s working with Professor Rotenberg on data analysis from drones in search of those elusive harpy eagle nests.


Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education

Conservation Documentary featuring Jamie Rotenberg and his work:

Wings of Hope